Glass House

My world is weirder than your world.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Justice.

Shifted my work schedule around yesterday and spent most of the day at the Fulton County criminal court. Now you might think that just getting to places in the city would be a pain for me. I look at it as an adventure. Let me break this down for you, so you can see what an average day out is like.

First, I dress for the occasion. What I wear is only important in that it can't make any noise. No jeans, no nylon windbreakers. It's been cold the last couple of days, so we're looking at sweatpants and a microfleece pullover. I know I'm going to miss lunch, so I pack a sandwich in a zip-loc bag, grab a banana and a juice box, and I put them into the the pullover's pockets. (See yesterday's rant.)

Then I ride my bike to the nearest Gwinnett County Transit station. Yes, being an invisible man on an invisible bike is dangerous. But I stay far on the left side of the road, against traffic, and when possible I try to ride during congested hours when things are slow. A few times I've had to dive off my bike and hit the dirt, but I've never been hit. I've got one particular spot in the bushes where I leave my bike and helmet -- it would suck to forget where they were.

The Gwinnett bus isn't crowded. It never is. I creep on board before the driver enters and stand near the back, and at the designated time the bus lurches off and we ride to the MARTA subway station. MARTA's the half-assed Atlanta attempt at public transit. It's clean, safe, and barely goes anywhere, which is why all the neighboring counties have had to develop their own half-assed systems. But I use it all the time. If the station looks too crowded, I hang around and wait until I won't have to elbow my way onto a train. Sometimes this can take a half hour or more. Yesterday I was lucky -- I'd already missed rush hour, and got onto a half-filled train.

(My least comfortable moments, BTW, are when a train fills up after I'm already on it. It's not terribly risky -- the geometry of the luggage niche is such that there's basically always a few inches to stand in -- but it's extremely tight, and when that happens there are so many people grabbing the handrails that I can't move my hands or arms.)

Eventually the train stopped at Georgia State University, and I got off and walked the few blocks to the courthouse on Pryor Street. Total time for the bus and train were an hour and twenty minutes. That may not seem long, but consider: if you were doing this, you'd probably bring a book or a Game Boy or something to keep yourself entertained. Guess what.

After I got to the court it was a simple matter of walking through the metal detectors (dead simple, I wasn't carrying anything metal) and waiting in the appropriate courtroom for four hours. Luckily the place had wooden seats, so I could sit in them without making an impression. Otherwise I'd sit on the floor. When I got bored and hungry, I took a walk outside and ate my lunch on the sidewalk, where the traffic noise would mask any eating noise, then I came back in.

And, by now, you're all seething at me for not telling you why I was there. I'm not being coy; I figured you'd find everything above more interesting. It was an arraignment hearing.

Imagine, unknown reader, that you were possessed with the miraculous power to make people happy. Or sad, or any other damn thing you wanted them to be. Most of us can do this anyway, but imagine that you could do it by taking the emotions of an experience away from a person, the visceral feel of that experience, and dumping it into an object. Then the next person who touches that object gets it discharged into them, like a capacitor.

What would you do with an ability like that? I could see a lot of possibilities for therapy. For helping people get rid of old trauma, or bringing two people closer together, or hell, just for evening out some of the unfair allocations of joy and pain in the world on a local level.

This rat bastard was using it to sell drugs.

How we found out about this guy, and what we did to him to get him where he is, is old news. My mission yesterday was just to monitor. To make sure said rat bastard actually was going to go to trial; and if not, to send an alarm to the circle and follow him out of the arraignment until Dana and Nick could get together and catch up with me.

No need for an alarm. If the rat bastard pulled anything funny, I didn't see it, and it looks like the ten kilograms of substance he was caught with was plenty to get him sent to the next level. (The true nit-picker may point out that the substance he was on trial for was not the substance he was actually pushing; nor was he its owner for very long. Not that I would know anything about that.)

So he went back to jail, and I wandered downtown for a little while and then went home. Turned out to be an unnecessary trip, with nothing for me to do. I couldn't be happier about it.

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