To be sure I didn't fluff up, I asked a neighbor to call that morning to remind me, but I woke up early, showered, washed my hair, which was nearly dry by the time the neighbor gave me the reminder call. I was still glad he did. Shortly after that, my lawyer called, telling me which door and floor, then which office to report to.
I went in an hour and a half early, having decided to eat lunch in the little restaurant right across the street from the court house. There was a realty sign in the window, never reassuring. I could remember school employees going there en mass for lunch the last day of school. Maybe we all enjoyed it so much because of the time of year and the company we were in...
I don't think the owners are the same ones. For $1.25, I got an exceedingly small glass of milk. Now I ask you, how can you mess up a BLT? Their Texas toast was yellow instead of white, and had been fried on the grill instead of toasted, and the tomatoes were tastless. I use Miracle Whip, but they only offered mayo for dressing. The lettuce was iceburg, whereas I have become used to the romaine after being on that diet for so long. In short, I should have eaten at home.
One elderly couple who had pulled into the parking lot in a handicapped space right before I turned in entered the building right after me, but were waited on immediately (they knew the waitress, and the man seemed a bit palseyed), at what should have been the height of the lunch crowd. One gal was leaving with a take out white styrofoam container in her hand as I was driving up. Three salesmen came in later, taking the front corner booth, and an elderly family of four, two different couples of different generations came in before I left. One more "to go" order left. Not much to sustain a business on.
The palseyed man was evidently hard of hearing, as he nearly shouted the most inane things. Wish I'd taken in my purse and could have written the comments down as he made them. The only one I remember now was the bit about the weather. "Sure nice weather for this time of year. I don't know how to dress. I put on shorts, but now I'm cold." (He was sitting right under the ac vent for that side of the room, but nobody suggested he move over a table. Maybe moving is hard enough for him that it would not be a kindness.)
Climbing the stairs to the third floor, I approached the clerk of court's office. She was sitting back against the far wall and did not get up. I told her my name, then repeated it again for her upon request. Surely, since I was to be there in ten minutes, she should have been expecting someone with my name?
After confirming my appointment, she told me to take a seat in the hall. I walked down to the first plastic chair in a long line, opened my book, and began to read. No traffic, no clock, nothing. I studied the courthouse architecture. Outside, the massive stones are impressive, but on the third floor, the walls are tiled with thumbnail sized pink tiles, from floor moulding to ceiling. Every eight feet or so, a tin U shaped decoration ran from moulding to moulding. Since the pink tiles looked better suited to a bathroom, I imagined water flowing through the metal troughs. Of course, since there was no fourth side, it would have spewed all over the hall. The furnace and air conditioning units had concrete block designs sitting in front of them, painted white.
Once I saw a white haired man walk out of a door and enter the clerk's door, then showing up back beside her desk. They chatted a bit, and he returned. He never looked in my direction.
Eventually, my lawyer showed up. He went down to the judge's chambers, knocked on the door, peeked in, then returned to sit one chair down from me. "He's on the phone," he informed me. We chatted a bit, then I asked what time it was. I know I'm time/date impaired, but it seemed I'd sat alone in the hall far longer than ten minutes. "I was seven minutes late," he admitted.
Since the judge had set the time and date of this appearance, why would he be on the phone?
The white haired man again exited from his office into the clerk's, then back to his, again not looking down the hall at us at all, but this time, I knew he was the judge.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, the lawyer went down to check again. "He's still on the phone." We sat, chatting over inconsequential things. The judge made one more trip across to the clerk's office and back.
Finally, the third time, the lawyer peeked in, he went inside, staying for fifteen or twenty minutes.
One person came up the stairs on the far southern end of the hall instead of the broad west staircase that was the fancy entrance. I did not look up from my book, as they were obviously female footsteps continuing up the center of the hall, not my lawyer's. I could not help seeing the heavy set lady in jeans, tennies, and a well-worn shirt, nearly black hair curling all over her head at a 1/2" length, or maybe a bit shorter.
"Unusual and not very flattering style, I thought. I never notice things like that generally, much less think comments, even to myself, about people's appearance, but the book I was reading was a historical, with elaborate descriptions of botht he men's and women's clothes, so I guess I was doing a bit of comparing. Neither one of us had dressed with anything close to the attention those people back in the 1800's paid to their attire every time they left their home, ball or visit with friends.
She offered the clerk a receipt-sized slip of paper I'd noticed in her hand. As she returned, I said hello, as she was looking at me, and this time, I was facing her, as I'd tipped a bit to be sure I could watch the action at the northern end of the hall, where the clerk's office and judge's chambers were.
Smiling at me, she commented, "Your hair is beautiful."
I thanked her, glad I'd bothered to wash and dry it that morning when I woke up and dressed more nicely than I would for school. Normally, I'd have waited at least one more day before washing it (unless I had sweated - then I have to wash it to feel clean.)
Somehow, I ended up telling her about my friend Lela, who'd gone to Nebraska to a cancer clinic for some special treatments that might save/prolong her life, but would cost her her hair. I'd offered to give her the bottom of mine when she got back for a human hair wig, as she always wore hers in a perm called a "poodle do". I'm not sure that's the official name. It sounds a bit perjorative, to me.
"I'd definitely wear a wig that color," she confided enthusiastically.
She spent quite a bit of time trying to convince me to donate 12-18" anyway. Now, which color she meant, I'm not sure! I'm white on top along the center line, gray in places, but the underneath layer is still brown. The bottom is breaking off. I used to have quite a bit that would hang clear off my hips when wet, but I forget when I sit/lie down to move it beforehand, and it is really thinning out down there.
Eventually, she went on her way. I'm pretty sure she's a cancer survivor, after seeing Bon's without her wig on via Face Time, but we never addressed it. I returned to my reading as her footsteps faded, still wondering which color. Surreal conversation.
When the lawer exited the judge's chambers, he had a satisfied walk. Once he drew close enough, he said, "The judge has entered a (I forgot the name of it) because the other party did not show up." (I frowned, so he explained in simple language. I won't let him speak legalese to me and leave it at that.) "He's not hearing the case at all; he's issuing a summary judgement. You didn't win; you didn't lose. But you will get the control of your farm back. You will get some papers the sheriff can serve if he shows up (like that went so well the first few times we tried it.) He's barred."
I told the lawyer the guy I asked to farm back in the spring would be coming out that day after work to start cutting the hay.
"That's fine. The clerk of court will type up the papers. I don't know when it will be, if you will get them today, or if they will be mailed, but once the judgement is issued, it is in effect." Before we'd gotten all the points covered, the clerk approached, papers in hand. He asked her for a second copy, which he gave to me.
I gave him a check for the ad in the newspaper, and he left via the broad central staircase. I collected my glasses and book, and went out the south door, as I'd parked right by it.
Weird, weird day.