The day I became a judge was one of the most amazing days of my life. I took an oath that valued our legal system and I believed it to the core of my being. The day I started taking the law into my own hands, with no regard to the system whatsoever, was the day I truly felt liberated.
I never thought I would be the type to take advantage of the law and bend it to my interest. I thought only old middle-aged white men did it. But I think everyone would be surprised at what they’d do in the name of power… and lust. I’ll tell you what I did in the name of power. I lied, cheated, scammed, and killed for it.
It was a late night for me at the county courthouse. I was in my office trying to catch up on paperwork from some cases when I overheard an intense argument between Dr. Larabee and Jake Reynolds. I knew it was those two because Larabee is the only other person here on my hall and I saw Jake go into his office an hour earlier. Jake Reynolds was a 33-year-old public defender. Like me, he got the short end of the stick 95% of the time because he was young. As far as I knew he wasn’t from a family with notable name unlike Dr. Larabee. Mitchell Larabee was the lead judge in our circuit, the top dog, the head honcho- it was him. He was a 60-year-old white man who got his start in the judicial system thanks to his precious last name. The Larabee name rings bells here and not the right kind. They’ve been plagued with rumors of extortion, bribery, and of course prostitution. But none of that could compare to what I walked in on.
“You’re acting like a fucking baby! You knew what this was when you signed up. I said all hands-on deck and that is exactly what you gave me!” Dr. Larabee shouted at Jake.
“No! No! I never signed up for this! I’m no angel I know that but I never signed up for this!” Jake said as he cried.
My curiosity overtook my indifference and I decided I had to know more. I slipped off my black pumps so I wouldn’t make a sound. I left out of my office and began to inch down the hallway. The argument got more intense as I grew closer to Dr. Larabee’s office.
“I don’t give a damn! You’re in this now and you’re going to keep your mouth shut and help me out of it.”
I was now at the hinges of his door. I took breath before I peeked in and waited to see what would happen next. When I heard them walk toward the file cabinet on the opposite side of the room I peeked my head around the door and there was a body. My emotions got the best of me and I stood there shaking and whimpering. I guess they heard me because they walked back to the door and they were horrified when they saw me. Jake began to curse and pace back and forth he was convinced that this was the end and that I would tell on them for sure.
Hindsight is always 20/20 they say. Well they’re right. I still don’t know why I didn’t run for my life and find the nearest security guard. But I’m sure I’ll know by the end of this interview.
Dr. Larabee grabbed me by my arm and pulled me into his office then slammed the door shut. He forced me into a chair.
“You won’t say anything about what you see here or what you heard!”
“I won’t! I promise I won’t.”
“How do we even know we can believe anything she says Mitch? Hell, she’s new!”
“She’s not going to say anything because she wants the position of second in command.” Dr. Larabee said while looking at me.
“But that’s Patrisha’s position”, I said.
Patrisha Marks was a 40 something white woman who I only knew of because of her high-ranking position as second in command to Larabee. See none of these positions really existed but of course there was seniority. Word has it Patrisha had to do some dirty things to be second in command. Keeping my mouth closed wasn’t that bad… and my hands weren’t too dirty… at least that’s what I thought back then. You may be wondering why these positions were so sought after or why people would commit murder for them? Your title may be judge but once you’ve proven yourself, your name carries a lot more weight. With that weight, you can knock a lot of shit down. Make doors open for yourself and for your family. You might even close doors for others when necessary.
“You don’t have to worry about Trish anymore”, Larabee said.
He nodded toward the body on the left side of his desk. I got up from my chair and started to walk toward it. It was Patrisha. I stumbled back once I came to the realization. My eyes started to water again.
“Shh shh! Calm down. You have a choice to make. Either you’re going to turn us in or you’re going to take my offer. Dr. Washington you know who I am and you know what I can do in this town. I advise you to think very carefully about your decision.”
I did know what Larabee could do. Hell, if I had told on him he probably would’ve found a way to make it and me go away. That’s power and I wanted that kind of power, even though I didn’t know it at that moment. Jake and Larabee were watching me closely. They were trying to read my face for a decision.
“I’ll keep my mouth closed. I want to be second in command by the end of the month. No bullshitting me Larabee”
“You got it Washington. Let me make myself clear, in case I didn’t before, you know what I can do,” he looked towards Patrisha’s body, “so I hope we have an understanding that we’re going to keep this quiet. You too Jake!”
Jake and I nodded in unison. I left the room at that moment. I was barely able to walk because I was still shaking like crazy. I was also nervous as hell because I had no clue what I had just got myself into. I mean Patrisha was dead now and here I was about to take her spot.
I packed my papers up into my briefcase and decided to postpone the paperwork. Once I got home I crashed into my bed fully clothed. I took a deep breath and sat in the deep dark silence. I wanted to see if I could be ok with this. I wanted to know if I could sleep at night knowing that I had possibly let a murderer go free for the advancement of my career. Scary thing was, I could sleep at night. In fact, I slept great. And that morning when I woke up in my cold gray loft I knew a monster had been born.
DISCLAIMER: The bolded part is the writing prompt I used. The rest is all me. I know there is a lot of ambiguity and that’s on purpose. I want to spark imagination and have people come up with their own conclusions.