It is a chilly lazy Saturday morning; I slept in. Rather, I laid in bed and listened to my husband’s footsteps descend the stairs at 5 AM. An hour or so later, I heard the pat-pat-pat of small feet on the linoleum floor of the bathroom. I listened to my grandson’s insistent cries, and then I heard he and his mother go downstairs. He does not have an understanding of the difference between weekdays and weekends.
I finally got up and went downstairs. Today is the day I will read the transcripts from the trial. The package containing the transcripts, the verdict and the copy of filed motions was sent to me by the appeals lawyer at Jacob’s request. It arrived about three weeks ago in a damaged envelope with an apology from the USPS. I cut away the tape and manila envelopes from two rubber-banded, unequal-sized packets of white printed pages and two stapled packets. I picked up this package from my post office in Cowansville as I was heading back to Jacob’s house in Swissvale. I carried them into his house and set them on the dresser to await my plunge into the pages. They sat untouched until I put them into the bottom of my overnight bag for a return to Cowansville. At home I pulled them out again and laid them on the glossy wooden dining room table. Back into my bag they went several days later as I packed to return to Swissvale. They travel back and forth now as seasoned travelers, none the worse for wear other than a few curled up corners. They scream to be opened. Why could I not bring myself to open their pages and begin to read about those few days in July that brought some finality to our ordeal and changed our lives in new ways? I wanted to pretend that those days had never happened. I did not want to read those ugly accusations in black and white on those pages. I did not want to remember the faces and ugliness of the people who accused my son. I did not want to remember the stride of ADA Lowry into the courtroom, a stranger whose face is now part of my memories in a way that I am not part of his. I did not want to recall the broad back of the police detective sitting beside the ADA whispering in his ear or remember the profile of his face sitting beside my son. I did not want to recall those feelings of hope and apprehension as we sat in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse awaiting the verdict. I did not want to remember my son led away in handcuffs after the split decision was read. I did not want to remember those primal emotions of loathing and hate as I saw my son’s ex-mother-in-law sitting on a bench outside the courtroom crying and being comforted by two men who I believed had done a job for her family with little thought of truth and justice. I am human; I did not willingly invite these thoughts and memories back in. Still, I did just that this morning.
A week or so ago I had read the small packets. The first was the verdict of this jury, and the second was a copy of motions filed by the appeals lawyer. They were filed; they were denied. The denial was expected. It reminds me of the medical claims filed for $200.00 and approved for $5.00; this one though is the notice that you have no coverage for that procedure. I thought the pages gave us some answers to questions of appeal. I shared the information on the pages with Roy and then with Jacob when he called. He asked me to contact the lawyer with other questions. I feel guilty because I do not want to contact someone who I am afraid will ignore me. It stirs feelings of anger, helplessness, that churning in my stomach. As an introvert, I have been pushed outside the boundaries of my comfort zone; my mind is stretched and stretched when it wants to shrink away. I am pushed to act and do things that feel unnatural to me. I do them.
These packets I opened today are pages detailing hours of those days last summer. There were two packets because there were two court reporters for the trial. The second reporter was worrisome to us. He interrupted many times to ask witnesses and lawyers to repeat their words. We worried about the accuracy of his work. It made me wonder how we can be assured of the accuracy of any court transcript. What are the checks and balances? I divide workers into three categories: those who excel in their work, those who are adequate, those who perform poorly and are completely unreliable. In all our choices in life, we hope we get the excellent or at the very least, the adequate, on our side. We try to make informed selections, but too often we rely simply on the luck of the draw. There is a randomness about so many things that happen to us. I had never thought before all this happened how much we may be at the mercy of other people’s whims, evils, vengeance, hatred, bias, prejudice, competencies.
Today I began with the first packet of 131 pages. It is easy reading; the print is large with double-spaced short lines. There is justification format on the right side with paragraph indentations. The wide margins and space between lines leave room for annotation. Each page and each line is numbered for easy reference. I have always hated to mar the pages of a book with handwritten notes. This is a book without binding, and I will keep my notes apart from these pages. I sit here with the coffee I promised unsuccessfully to omit from my diet for a while. The headache that I have endured with varying intensity the last two days still throbs gently. The second packet of 345 pages is a less pleasing font, narrower margins, and a heavy dark print that suggests an ink cartridge was changed for its production. It glares harshly up at me awaiting its turn.