“The People of San Francisco against Dylan Matthews,” announced the heavy-set bailiff in a booming voice. He walked over and handed the case file to a clerk.
Almost with a snap of a finger, I stood to the right of Artie Chin while a junior prosecutor with sad eyes stood on the other side of Chin. Judge Esther Strong sat directly in front of us. The fifty or so year old judge looked down at the file in front of her and then over at me. A slight smile crossed her deep red lips for a nano-second before she resumed her judicial posture.
The prosecutor opened with a legal sounding statement. Chin countered with his defense lawyerly jargon. Back and forth the two fired legalese-laced salvos until Chin ended by saying, “My client enters a not-guilty plea.”
Judge Strong closed the file and turned to dismiss us, but then she stopped. She leaned forward and stared into my eyes.
“I’m inclined to allow Mr. Matthews to be released on his own recognizance, without bail, but I do want to ask him a couple of questions first,” she said, pausing to collect her thoughts. “What will you do if I set you free this morning? Will you go back to Temecula and return for your hearing in two weeks?”
Three possible answers crossed my mind at that moment: forty-eighth anniversary trip to Tahoe, playing with my grandchildren, or enjoying a few rounds of golf with some buddies. All would have pleased the judge so I could have walked out the door into the sunlight once again, but they all evaporated into nothingness. What then came out of my mouth caused a reaction like dropping a live grenade into the courtroom.
“I will walk out the door and go directly to the Castro District and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to that community. They deserve to be set free from the kingdom of darkness by the love of Jesus.”
Judge Strong jumped to her feet. A finger jutted out of her black robe and pointed at me. Anger stripped the judge of her judicial mask, revealing her true inner feelings.
“Mr. Matthews, you have no right to impose your self-righteous religious beliefs on our gay and lesbian communities. I will make sure your bigoted beliefs cost you dearly by setting your bail at one hundred thousand dollars and remanding you to the county jail. What do you think of that, Mr. Matthews?” she proclaimed loud enough for everyone in the building to hear her.
“I shall not pay one dime nor allow anyone to raise money to set me free nor will I eat another bite of food until I am set free from this jail. Whether I walk out the door or am carried out in a casket is up to the Lord, I shall trust Him to set me free,” I replied.
“Well, we’ll see about your so-called God and how your arrogance holds up two weeks from now at your preliminary hearing. Next case.”
My lawyer resumed his normal breathing as he escorted me back to the small holding pen.
“Maybe you would have answered differently if I would have warned you ahead of time that Judge Strong is a lesbian and staunch leader in the LGBT movement,” he whispered.
Then, a voice from the courtroom cut my heart.
“Dylan, Dylan, I love you…”
I turned to see Jane waving at me. She looked great in her yellow dress, one of my favorites, but all I could do was nod my head and wonder about what she was thinking.
(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which can be checked out here.)
(Continued in Part 6…the first 9 parts are reruns and can be read here.)