Death in A Big Town 2

I know everyone wants to believe that I was forced or pressured into doing this. No one wants to believe their lawmakers, the very people that hold so many lives in their hands can be so diabolical and greedy. The only thing I was forced to do was keep my mouth closed. The rest was up to me.

It was colder than usual that Monday morning. The morning of May 23rd when I was supposed to start my position as second in command to Dr. Larabee.

I think that coldness was exuding from me.

I knew that I had to change my entire aura. I was going to being among the top dogs in the county and I had to act like I belonged. I didn’t know what to expect going into this position. I had never even had a conversation with Patrisha and I only talked to Larabee once before. But like any good law student turned lawyer turned judge I knew how to keep my poker face. I started my car and headed down the black brick road. I walked through the glass doors of the county courthouse trying to seem like a new woman.

After going through the metal detector, I was immediately cornered by Mitchell Larabee. He grabbed my hand and proceeded to walk me to my new office.

“I just thought I’d pay you a visit on your first day to make sure you get settled in well”, he said while escorting me inside the office. He shut the door behind him.

“I’m sure you did Larabee.”

“And of course, I wanted to remind you of our little deal and make sure we have a mutual understanding.”

“We do. You have nothing to worry about.”

I put my head down immediately. Truth be told Mitchell was intimidating as hell, and knowing he was capable of murder made him even more frightening.

“So… Are you going to tell me the full story…? Like why it happened? People are going to ask questions and they’re going to ask me, since I’m in her position while she’s deemed “missing”.”

He paused for a minute. He was debating on whether to tell me, or how much I needed to know. He motioned for me to sit.

“I cannot express to you how important discretion is, Judge.”

I rolled my eyes at the condescension I heard in the word “judge”. I nodded for him to continue.

“Ok. Trish was a part of GAMP.”

“Wait GAMP? I thought that was all just rumor started by Smith because he wanted you out of the courthouse.”

“No, GAMP is real. But that motherfucker Smith didn’t know how real it was. He did want me out of the courthouse which is why he ran with it.”

Now I know you’re wondering what GAMP is. Last year GAMP was rumored to be a selective club of men that ran the county. Nothing came in without their permission and nothing went out unless they knew what it was. GAMP was rumored to be behind many corruption and bribery schemes, but their connections were endless so any questions that ever came up went right back down.

“What was Trish’s involvement in GAMP?”

“Trish was our middleman. The person we needed to carry out business because none of us could be seen.”

He was being short and it was pissing me off. I wanted to know everything in that moment. I didn’t know what GAMP was for a fact at that moment but I would find out quickly. See the thing only rule in a club like GAMP is that you must be soulless. The moment you start having second thoughts or trying to do the right thing you become an enemy to them. Let’s just say Patrisha became an enemy.

“What did Trish do wrong?”

“She forgot about the rule of discretion.”

There was a pause.

“Is that seriously all you’re going to tell me?”

“That’s all you need to know. When people start asking you questions you know nothing!”

I nodded.

“Say it.”

“I know nothing.”

“Good. Now, there’s a meeting later tonight. Mostly to welcome you to the top of the circuit and discuss some other things. By the way, you can call me Mitch.”

“Ok… Mitch.”

With that he left my office. I sat back in my chair and huffed out a huge breath. I spun around to look at the view. There were two large windows right behind me and outside of those windows? A county bustling with people. Orange County was just that type of place. Everyone was always on the move, doing something, or going somewhere. I loved it here.

I turned the TV onto the local news station to get updates about what the media was saying regarding Patrisha’s “disappearance”.

“It’s been two days since Orange County Judge Patrisha Marks was reported missing by her sister Alaina Smith. She was last seen at her office at the county courthouse. So far no one has come forward with details regarding her disappearance. We spoke with Alaina at her home for more information.”

The screened switched to a male reporter as he was walking up toward Alaina and who I assumed to be her husband.

And just that fast shit got real.

The camera turned toward Alaina Smith and her husband Levi Smith, who was District 4 Supervisor. The Board of Supervisors in Orange County consist of 5 people that represent 5 districts. They oversee businesses, agencies, and departments within in the OC. Levi was the man who tried to expose GAMP last year to get Patrisha the position as “lead” judge. She was the same age as Mitch and had been involved in the system just as long. But she wasn’t a Larabee and she was a woman. Levi thought he could use his big mouth and influence to sway people away from Mitch, but it didn’t work. I didn’t know Levi was Patrisha’s brother in law. Hell, I didn’t even know she had a sister. If Patrisha and Levi were brother and sister, and Levi and Mitch were arch nemesis, and Patrisha was the First Lady of GAMP… what could it mean?

The wheels in my mind were starting to turn but I had no time to sit and draw a bubble chart. I had to get to court and handle cases. I’m sure I’ll be getting more answers tonight at this “meeting”.

 

After a long day of cases and slamming my gavel it was finally time to meet the inner circle. I walked down the infamous hallway. The hallway where my old office was and where my new fate lay ahead. Once I reached Mitch’s office I knocked on the big mahogany door. Jake Reynolds opened it to my surprise. He didn’t smile.

Jake was pleading with his eyes. He wanted me to turn around but I didn’t know it then.

“Hey Jake”

“Hey Taryn”

I walked into the office reluctantly. I heard the door behind me close and I jumped a little. I knew my fate was sealed. I slowly walked toward the group of men standing at the large windows behind Mitchell’s desk. Cigar smoke, expensive scotch, and misogyny filled the air.

“Uh… Hello?”

That was the best greeting I could muster. They all turned toward me and grinned. Sort of like a pack of hungry wolves looking at their next meal. There were all different kinds of wolves, too. Black, white, and a Hispanic one. At least they cared about representation, I guess. There were a few businessmen, lawyers, and of course 2 judges. In all there were 7, including me.

“Taryn Meyers! Welcome. Gentlemen this is one of our new judges. She recently got a promotion and I wanted us all to sit and get to know each other. Taryn is new to the circle but I’m sure she’ll prove to be a very vital asset.”

I greeted all the men formally and shook each hand firmly.

“Let’s have a seat. Shall we?”, said Mitchell.

We all sat down and got to business.

Death in A Big Town

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.

“Wh-why not?”

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.

I’m a Christian and I’m Pro-Choice. Here’s why…

That title is pretty cringe-worthy, right?

There’s a huge misconception about people who are pro-choice. We’ve been branded “pro-abortion” and “baby killers” (even though I’ve never hurt a baby before). No one is PRO abortion! No one wants abortions, but some of us understand that in some cases it’s a necessity and that it isn’t our place to decide what someone else does with their life. As a Christian, I live by the good ol’ verse of Matthew chapter 7. For those of you who don’t know it is a chapter in Matthew that speaks specifically about judging others. I want to focus on verse 3, which says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” So, believers? Why are we so quick to condemn women who make the decision to abort, knowing that it is probably one of the hardest decisions they’ll ever have to make? We all have our own demons and skeletons we are still asking God to forgive us for. He shows us so much compassion, but we can’t manage to do the same for these women. As believers, it’s our job to be a source of light for a person who’s struggling (2 Corinthians 2:7-8). I always hear “Oh no! I’m not judging, I’m just saying what the Bible says!” but, if you look at a woman with contempt and pure disgust after she says she’s had an abortion or she’s pro-choice, you are judging. If you treat people differently based on that decision they’ve made, you are judging. If you claim to be a Christian but at night you’re in comments harassing people and calling them everything BUT a child of God, you ARE judging!

Yes, I am a Christian who thinks a woman has the right to choose. I read the Bible daily, I meditate on Philippians and Ephesians (my favorites) as if my life depends on it, because it kinda does, right?

Many of my fellow believers think that there’s no way you can be a follower of Jesus Christ and still think abortion is ok.  Throughout the Bible we are told in various scriptures not to kill the innocent (Exodus 23:7) and how valuable our lives are, even in the womb, because we already have paths created for us (Psalm 139). And let’s not forget one of the most important commandments in the Bible tells us we shall not commit murder-period (Exodus 20:13).

There is more than enough evidence in the Bible for us Christians to decide that abortion is wrong based on our faith and it’s fine to have that belief and voice it (respectfully). What’s not fine is trying to dictate the lives of other women based on your own personal beliefs. Personally, I’d never get an abortion because I don’t think it’s right. But how can I tell another woman that she shouldn’t get an abortion because I don’t think it’s right. Let’s say she did listen to me, and she decided that she would keep her baby because it was the thing that I said she should do. When it’s time for that baby to be born am I going to be beside her bed holding her hand? No. Once she leaves the hospital am I going to take her in and care for her and her child if she’s impoverished? No, I am not. The woman could be a girl who is 19 years old, who just had sex on whim with her boyfriend because she wanted to try it. As shallow and stupid as that seems IT DOES HAPPEN. I hate to break it to you conservatives, but everybody ain’t waitin’ until marriage in 2017! She could also be a 25-year-old woman who is stable in every way, but because of events unforeseeable she must have an abortion or she will die. I don’t have to talk about it in the case of rape or incest because I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. I know those two scenarios aren’t the case for all abortions. There are some women out there who constantly have unprotected sex and if they get pregnant they’d have no problem ending that sweet baby’s life. It’s hard to think about keeping abortion legal when you think about it in that way so, I don’t. I think of the cases that matter and the women that matter. I think of the children that matter. The young lives that we, as a society, are molding every day.

I could bring science into my argument, the ongoing debate about fetus vs. baby, and Personhood. But I won’t, because regardless of science and statistics, I listen to the word of God.

In conclusion, I’m not saying it’s wrong to share your beliefs, your values, or the Gospel. I am saying, however, that as believers we have been called to love and to heal above all things (Colossians 3:12-16). I’m here to tell you that you can still be just as blameless as you were before without dictating someone else’s choices. Pushing for laws that gives the government control over another person’s body is despicable. As much as this post was to explain my position on this subject, it was also to remind my brothers and sisters in Christ of what we are on this Earth to do.

*The Bible references come from NIV.