While I was busy writing my novel, I worked as a small-claims courtroom stenographer on the side.
OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT: JUNE 23, 2014—COURTROOM 7B:
ROBERTSON: Your honor, I have in my hand the mechanic’s bill for $300.
(Whereupon ROBERTSON hands EXHIBIT A to DISTRICT JUDGE KENNEDY)
STEINBERG: But the damage to the bumper precedes the accident, your honor.
(Whereupon STEINBERG looks out the window. He can smell the freshly cut grass outside. Perfect for a game of football with Jessie, just like when they were boys. It would be fall soon.)
ROBERTSON: No it doesn’t. Here’s a photo of my Corolla on First Street, minutes before.
(Whereupon ROBERTSON remembers her. Martha. His everything. She was right to leave him, with his drink, his late nights, the way he treated Charlie. It was in his quiet moments that he missed her the most.)
ROBERTSON: See? Not a scratch.
(Not on the bumper anyway. O Martha.)
DISTRICT JUDGE KENNEDY: Wait, you were on First Street at 2:45 PM in a blue Corolla?
(Whereupon STEINBERG shuffles his papers, remembering fall afternoons with Jessie. The pigskin and a sack of licorice down by the pond, just beginning to freeze over.)
ROBERTSON: I plead the fifth.
DISTRICT JUDGE KENNEDY: You don’t know anything about the spree of hit-and-runs?
(“Jessie the ice isn’t thick enough yet. Stop it.”)
ROBERTSON: No. I plead the fifth.
(Whereupon STEINGBERG looks again out the window. It would be fall soon, yes. And then winter. And then the ice would be true and honest and thick for skating. But not for Jessie.)
DISTRICT JUDGE KENNEDY: A blue Corolla was seen fleeing down First Street after four hit-and-runs. This was all around 2:45.
(Whereupon BAILIFF THOMPSON, a short man with a sweaty brow and a penchant for beating his wife for no better reason than that the very sight of her reminds him of his utter impotence, sneezes)
ROBERTSON: All right! I admit it! It was me. I hit them. Hit ‘em all, and I’d do it again!
(Whereupon DISTRICT JUDGE KENNEDY beats his gavel upon the desk. Tap, tap, tap. Martha, Martha, Martha.)