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Geezer Up (Part 16)

Except for the early moments in Cell 27 when my cellmate wrapped his hands around my neck, the rest of my first twenty-four hours of jail life crept along like a snail on a hot sidewalk. Slowly! Bogart and I reached a tacit truce, which allowed me to speak only when he directed a question at me, but otherwise, I remained silent.

I wandered out into the common area and spent time with eleven other inmates watching TV. Reality shows, especially “Judge Judy” and “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” were the favorites with comments being peppered at the TV throughout each show.

As far as eating, no one noticed that I was not doing so. God’s grace covered my fast and my efforts to do it in secret.

At 10 a.m., a tall guard came to the cell. “Matthews?” he said.

“Yes,” I said, sitting up in my bunk.

“Come down here. Turn around. Put your hands behind your back.”

I followed his instructions as he put handcuffs on my wrists and quickly patted down my body for weapons.

“Turn around. Walk out the door, turn right, and head toward the entrance. Your lawyer is waiting for you in meeting room #2, on your left.”

When I entered the small room, Artie sat at a metal table, wearing a light gray suit and black shirt open at the collar. The guard removed my handcuffs and left the room. I sat down on the opposite side of the table from Artie.

“How are you doing?” he asked, looking into my eyes.

I shrugged. “Well, it’s not a picnic, but so far, I’m doing okay.”

“Well, that’s probably as good as one can hope for right now.”

He opened his brown briefcase and took out my worn black leather Bible.

“Jane brought this over before I left the office this morning.”

I grabbed the Bible and fanned the pages.

“Thank you, just what I need right now.”

“Here are some legal pads and jail approved pencils, too.”

I nodded my head.

Artie blew out a deep breath before explaining the prosecutor’s offer of leniency in exchange for my admittance of guilt and apology.

“No, not interested in that deal.”

He then mentioned how the City Attorney’s office would throw the book at me if I refused the offer, which could result in a log prison sentence for me. Even if the decision were appealed, I might end up being locked up for months or years before the case was settled.

“Still not interested. Sink or swim, live or die, I’m determined to trust the Lord all the way to the end of this.”

Artie stood up and picked up his briefcase. “I will be back in eleven days to ready you for your preliminary hearing. Jane will visit you tomorrow and Sunday.” He paused a moment. “My wife and I are praying for you…just want you to know that.”

We shook hands before the guard returned to take me back to Cell 27.

(Continued in Part 17…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Geezer Up (Part 15-b)

Jane

Two hours later, I sat in the lobby of Effingham and Effingham between J. C. and Shira. A thin middle-aged secretary with auburn hair typed on a computer keyboard at the receptionist desk in front of us. Off to our left, two suit-clad men sat huddled over their iPads.

“Jane Matthews, Mr. Effingham is ready for you now,” said the receptionist, looking over the top of her reading glasses and pointing to the right. “Go down that hallway and take the first left. His office is the last one with his name on the door. Just knock on the door.”

The three of us stood up and walked past her desk down a cherry paneled hallway. After we turned the corner, Effingham’s office was straight ahead.

“Jane, how are you feeling?” asked Shira.

“Scared to death and like throwing up.

J. C. patted me on the back. “You must be ready for the big game then?”

“How can you say that?”

“Bill Russell, Hall of Fame Boston Celtic basketball center, vomited before every big game he ever played in. His coach thought it was the team’s good luck charm and would not let the team run onto the court until Bill vomited.”

“Thanks for encouraging me…I guess.”

J. C. tapped on the tall six-panel door. A deep voice directed us to enter. J. C. then opened the door and ushered us into an office that in my wildest dreams I could never have imagined ever existed. It was a basketball court with a large walnut executive desk in the right corner. A round table with four chairs sat on one side of the desk and a leather sofa sat on the other. Prints and photos of the Golden State Warriors’ stars hung on the walls.

A tall man wearing a blue Warrior’s basketball warm up suit stood up and pointed toward the round table. He appeared to be in his middle forties, but it was hard to judge his age because of his fit shape and dark hair.

“Hi J. C. and Shira. This must be Jane Matthews, right?” he said, holding his huge hand out to me.

I shook his hand and nodded at him.

“Do you actually play basketball here?” I asked, looking around the gigantic room.

“All the time,” he said. “In fact, my dad purchased the glass backboard and hoop from the Warriors when they moved their games from the Cow Palace in Daly City to Oakland. It’s a one of a kind.”

We sat down around the table. Effingham had a legal pad and silver pen in front of him.

“Okay now, you’re planning on pleading your husband’s right to free speech versus San Francisco’s new hate crime law by taking your case to the media, right?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Have you done much public speaking before?”

“No, none at all.”

“Do you have idea what you will say?”

“No.”

“Do you realize the interviewers will infer that you and your husband are hate filled Christian bigots and will paint you as being worse than the most vile member of the Westboro Baptist Church? How do you plan on handling this?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I have no clue.”

He dropped his pen and blew out a deep breath. “So, you want me to help you without letting me know ahead of time what you will say or do? Is that correct?”

Before I could answer, a mantle of boldness draped itself over my shoulders. I smashed my fist on the table without planning to do so, causing his pen to fly onto the floor.

“Listen up, Effingham, the Lord said not to worry about what I would say ahead of time because He would give me a mouth and words which my adversaries would not be able to contradict or resist. I plan on trusting Him. How do you feel about that?”

Effingham’s dark eyes bulged out for a second and then a smile etched his lips. “I think we’ll make a great team. But what I’m really going to do is just stay out of your way and toss you into the toughest lion dens in the city. I pity them. They won’t know what hit them.”

He stood up and shook my hand. “So, give me the rest of today to work out the details. I’ll should have a speaking schedule ready for you sometime tomorrow.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Do you have a restroom? I think I’m going to throw up.”

(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which can be checked out here.)

(Continued in Part 16…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Geezer Up (Part 15)

Jane

“Okay, what’s your problem?” asked J. C. when we walked into the tiled foyer of their townhouse.

“Nothing,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“Sorry, that doesn’t work with me,” he said. “We can’t help if you don’t open up to us. Now, what’s you problem?”

We walked down a short picture lined hallway and into the family room. I sat down on a soft brown leather sofa while J. C. and Shira sat on a matching one on the opposite side of a glass-topped coffee table. I turned to look out the windows at the Golden Gate Bridge. No fog. Sunny and clear. Traffic seemed light on the bridge for 10:30 in the morning. I turned to face my friends.

“Here’s the deal,” I said, blowing out a deep breath. “The Lord wants me to go on TV, radio, to churches, and wherever He opens the door to defend Dylan’s stand and plead his cause.”

“What a great idea!” proclaimed Shira.

“Not really because I hate public speaking. I just can’t do it!”

Shira moved over next to me and put her arm around me. The gentle scent of her Estée Lauder perfume cajoled my emotions, calming me down a notch or two on my inner Richter scale.

“Jane, what’s the worse that could happen?” she asked.

“I might fail.”

“Really? The Lord would put Dylan’s future into your hands so He could watch you fail. How would that advance the kingdom of God?”

Although still sweet, a different side of Shira emerged at that moment: the exhorter. She had her periscope up, torpedo tubes loaded, and I was in her crosshairs.

“Okay, maybe I won’t fail, but I will most certainly make a fool of myself.”

The words skated past my brain and out my mouth before I could filter them. Shira looked into my eyes and grinned.

“Ah, at last, the truth.”

I wrinkled my nose.

“My answer didn’t sound very good, right?”

Shira shook her head. “No, darling.”

I raised my hands in surrender. “Okay, do either of you know how I can carry out this assignment from the Lord?”

“Hobart Effingham III,” said J. C., pulling his iPhone out of his pocket.

“Hobart Effingham? What’s that?”

“Effingham is a Christian businessman who happens to be the president of the largest public relations firm in San Francisco. A few phone calls by him will land you on the top-rated TV and radio programs in the area. As for churches, I can make some contacts to help you.”

Okay Lord, I thought, here I am. Use me.

(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which can be checked out here.)

(Continued in Part 16…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Geezer Up (Part 14)

Jane

J. C. and Shira sat in the front seats of their BMW while I sat in the backset. Our conversation died off within the first few blocks of driving toward their home on Nob Hill, which suited me just fine because I was arguing with God.

Most people who have met Dylan and me would assume that we must have been cut from the same small town cloth, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

Dylan’s parents were two of the sweetest people who have ever lived. Love and peace permeated every corner of their home. Meal times for Dylan and his sister Darla were filled with lively conversations about what happened during their day. All who sat around the table, even guests, were encouraged to contribute. Family problems were handled in love, rather than anger. Both parents attended Dylan and Darla’s school events, cheering them on from their seats. Because of the loving atmosphere provided by his parents, Dylan grew up to be a confident, loving adult.

By comparison, fear filled our home because of my dad. Although he was a successful real estate broker, he hated his career, his life, and himself. He took out his anguish on my mother, brother, sister, and me. We never knew what would trip his trigger, but when it happened he would turn into a ranting madman slinging four-letter words and accusations at everyone. It usually climaxed with him slapping us around.

Mealtimes? Oh my! These were tortuous occasions for the family because Dad demanded absolute quiet from us while he ate his meal. If for any reason, we children made a chewing noise or squirmed a bit in our chairs, he might smack us and send us to bed, berating us as we left the room. If he did speak and asked a question and then didn’t like our answers, he might slap us across the face right there at the table. Mom always sat in her chair with her head down like a timid titmouse, too afraid to confront Dad or defend her children. Her only solace was a bottle of Jack Daniels hidden behind the cereal boxes in the pantry.

Not only that, my dad attempted to molest me soon after my thirteenth birthday. I fought him off and ran into the bathroom, locking the door behind me. He never attempted to touch me again, but being alone in the house with him caused panic attacks to strike me so that I trembled and struggled to breathe. All I could think about during those times was the day his hands fondled my breasts.

What few friends or boyfriends I had were never invited into my home nor did I ever share the shame and pain I felt in my heart with anyone. Never once! Looking back, I now realize how fortunate it was for me to be a straight-A student because it kept prying eyes away from my life and our home.

My most awkward moment occurred on October 12th of my freshman year at the University of San Diego. My phone rang at 6:35 in the evening while I was writing an English essay at my dorm room’s desk. I answered, “Hello.”

“Hi honey.”

“Oh, hi mom.”

“I have some bad news.”

“Okay, let’s have it.”

“Your dad suffered a heart attack this afternoon and died before the paramedics arrived at his office.”

I did not say a word nor did mom. The dead air space continued between us for more than ninety seconds before I finally said, “Oh.”

Mom closed by saying the funeral arrangements would be made the next morning.

“Okay, mom.”

I hung up, shed no tears, and felt no grief.

Is it wrong to feel like this, I wondered. Then, I continued writing my essay.

Meeting Dylan and Jesus changed me into the woman I eventually have become, but still, I froze up and could not speak in front of audiences. All of my childhood pain and shame came roaring back into my mind. I just couldn’t do it!

So, when the Lord spoke to my heart in the backseat of the BMW, saying, “I want you to speak on TV, radio, in churches, and wherever I open the door, defending Dylan’s stand and pleading his cause,” I shook my head.

“No, Lord, I can’t do that,” I whispered.

Have you ever argued with the Lord? Did you win?

Of course not and neither did I.

(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which can be checked out here.)

(Continued in Part 15…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Geezer Up (Part 12)

 

One moment, I felt ten feet tall, full of faith, defying the judge, announcing my fast, and the next moment, which happened as soon as I stepped out of the courtroom, I was weak old Dylan again. A seventy-three year old, bald, fifteen pounds over weight geezer who needed afternoon naps to stay awake until 9:30 at night. Not only that, I craved blueberry pie, ice cream, chocolate covered peanuts, pizza, and would have robbed a bank to get them if I had a gun or a knife. What’s my problem, I thought.

The young guard marched me up to the seventh floor to County Jail #4, a maximum-security facility for murderers, rapists, drug dealers, gang leaders, and now, a geezer with a big mouth.

After signing in, I went to a room where a soft-spoken guard ordered me to strip off my clothing so he could thoroughly search me. He then handed me my orange county jail outfit, white t-shirt, white underwear, white socks, pair of black slide sandals, and a bag containing toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, and a locker key.

I finally arrived at my cell just before lunchtime. My cellmate sat at the small built-in desk, reading a thick book and taking notes on a legal pad. He looked up and shook his head.

“I was hoping for a cute young guy, but instead, I get an old, worn-out coot like you. What are the odds?” he said with a smile. Then, he stood up and offered his hand. “My name is Kyle Bogart. I’m the gay terminator on this wing.”

Even though he wore an orange uniform like mine, Kyle looked like he had stepped out of GQ Magazine with his stylish cut blond hair, blue eyes, chiseled good looks, and muscular six-foot frame.

I shook his firm hand. “My name’s Dylan Matthews. I’m a retired cute guy.”

Kyle laughed. “Okay, that’s funny, but because seniority has its benefits in here, you get the top bunk, and the little locker on the right.”

“That works for me.”

I pointed at his thick book. “What are you studying?”

“Law.”

“That sounds boring to me.”

“Yeah, it is, but I’m accused of murder and thought it would be a good idea to understand what the lawyers are talking about.”

“Murder? You look like a successful businessman.”

“Good guess! I am a part owner of a successful restaurant, but my partner was recently bludgeoned to death.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“Well, things happen. Plus, he was my husband and cheated on me. By the way, what are you in here for? Robbing a bank or something exciting like that?”

It’s funny how at that moment I remembered his words “gay terminator” and how he didn’t elaborate on that title. My imagination kicked into gear with all kinds of hypothetical possibilities.

I blew out a deep breath and plunged into the deep end. “I spoke a short message to some men watching the parade down in the Castro District. All I said was, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’ My words caused a small riot and ended up with me being arrested for a hate crime.”

His facial expression changed from normal to deranged in a San Francisco second. His blue eyes glazed over and the vein on the side his neck popped out, looking like it was ready to explode. He hurdled the distance between us and grabbed my neck with his huge hands and began choking me. I tried to protect myself, but he was too strong. His hate-filled eyes slashed my heart as I stared into them. I figured his face would be the last one I’d see before meeting Jesus in heaven.

The lunch chime sounded.

He released his chokehold on me, much like the dogs had responded to ringing bells in Pavlov’s experiments. He looked at me and then down at his hands, flexing both of them.

“My mom preached this crap to me until I finally left home. So, don’t ever mention Jesus or God to me again because I don’t know if I can contain myself from ripping you apart!” he proclaimed. Then, he lowered his voice. “Let’s go eat lunch now, okay?”

I struggled for breath and shook my head. “No! Go ahead without me. I’m going to rest a little bit.”

“Suit yourself, but today’s lunch is pastrami on rye with lentil soup. It’s really good.”

And just like that, the gay terminator left.

(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which can be checked out here.)

(Continued in Part 13…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Geezer Up (Part 11)

Jane

The adrenalin rush I felt at Dylan’s defiance in the courtroom soon burnt itself out, leaving me drained. I collapsed into the chair next to Shira who put her arm around me and stroked my shoulder with her left hand.

I watched Dylan’s lawyer, Artie Chin, walk with him to the holding pen, pat Dylan on the back, and turn around, heading back toward the defense table where he picked up his briefcase. The wiry prosecutor motioned with his hand to meet with him for a conference. Artie walked over to the prosecutor’s table. The two talked for a couple of minutes with Artie nodding his head at the end. Then Artie walked toward us.

“You must be Jane,” Artie said, offering his hand. “I’m Artie Chin, the lawyer Jacob called to represent Dylan.”

I shook his hand. “Thanks for helping my husband.”

“Let’s go out into the hallway and talk.”

J.C., Shira, and I followed Artie out of the courtroom, through the walnut paneled doors, and out into the almost empty hallway. He waved for us to follow him to an alcove with two wooden benches abutting each other. He sat down and patted the seat next to him. I sat down while J.C. and Shira seated themselves on the other bench.

“The prosecutor wants to settle the case right away. So, all Dylan has to do is offer some type of apology, even a feeble one, and the charges will be dropped. Dylan would be released almost immediately. What do you think?” Chin asked, his dark eyes revealing little of what he really thought.

I reached down with my left hand, smoothing my yellow dress, which allowed me to ponder his words for a few seconds.

“I know my husband,” I said, shaking my head. “He will never agree to watering down the gospel by being ashamed of speaking the good news to others.”

“I figured that might be the case, but you need to hear the rest of the story. The prosecutor stated that if Dylan refused to apologize, the City Attorney’s office was willing to go after your husband with an all-out effort, which could result in Dylan spending time in prison. It might even end up being appealed to the California Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court. All of this may take months or years.”

My hands rushed to my mouth.

“Months? Years?”

Artie nodded. “Justice moves slowly and will not take into account Dylan’s age.”

“Well, I’m going with what Dylan decides to do. So, when will I be able to see him or talk with him on the phone?”

Artie blew out a deep breath.

“I will be able to meet with him tomorrow morning. He can call you tomorrow afternoon, but you won’t be able to meet him until Saturday and then again on Sunday.”

“Okay, until then I will seek the Lord on what we should do.”

“Yes, ma’am, I will be praying also.”

Artie gave me a hug, stood up, and walked away. His footsteps echoed in the hallway making me feel so alone. What should I do? I wondered.

“Jane, what do you plan on doing next?” asked J.C., snapping me out of my thoughts.

“I don’t have a clue, but I think…it’s time for me to begin a new career, maybe in TV and radio.”

“What?” asked Shira.

I shrugged my shoulders, slapped the bench with both hands and stood up.

“Let’s roll,” I said.

(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which can be checked out here.)

(Continued in Part 12…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Geezer Up (Part 10)

Ching! Ching!

My iPhone’s text tone brought me back to earth. I stood up, realizing I had spent the whole night on my knees in traveling clothes. What time is it? I thought. I picked up my phone from the nightstand and clicked the power button − 6:15 a.m.

The text was from our lawyer Jacob: “A good lawyer and close Christian friend of mine, Artie Chin, has agreed to represent Dylan. He will be at the courthouse for the arraignment at 9 a.m. Let me know if you need anything else.”

I need to get ready now, I thought. Help me Lord!

 

J.C. and Shira drove me to the San Francisco Hall of Justice Building on Bryant Street, parking the BMW at an underground parking lot. The Justice Building resembled a drab concrete rhombus designed by second graders who were given cardboard boxes and told to create a building out of them. No ionic columns. No domes. No frills. No inspiration for those of us searching for hope.

A short walk later, we stood in a chrome elevator, heading to the fourth floor.

“Darling, why did you dress up so much? You look like you’re meeting the mayor,” whispered Shira, wearing blue jeans and white top.

“This yellow dress is Dylan’s favorite dress of mine. And the yellow heels? They add height and confidence, which I really need right now.”

“Well, this should be over soon and you two will be on your way to Tahoe,” said J.C., patting my shoulder.

“That would be great, but I have doubts.”

“Doubts?” asked Shira.

“This could be a long drawn-out battle with today just being the opening skirmish.”

“Do you know something we don’t?” asked J.C.

I shrugged. “Maybe.”

The elevator bell signaled our arrival at the fourth floor. We stepped out into a narrow hallway and walked toward the courtroom. A tall policeman directed us to remove our rings, watches, necklaces, pocket items, cell phones, place them in a silver bowl, and walk through a scanner. We passed our inspections and then rearranged ourselves before entering the courtroom.

The courtroom, unlike the boring building’s exterior, was almost lavish with its rich mahogany paneling, mahogany judicial bench, mahogany attorney’s tables, and black padded seats. There was seating for forty spectators, but only twelve or so awaited the arraignment proceedings. We sat in the second row, near the aisle.

At nine, a chubby bailiff, standing on the right side of the judge’s bench, announced, “All rise for the honorable Judge Esther Strong.”

Everyone stood as the thin female judge with dark hair swooped in and sat down on the bench. We followed suit and seated ourselves. The ruffling of clothes echoed throughout the courtroom.

Five Latino defendants with dark tattoos were arraigned for murder cases in a rather cut and dried fashion with very few comments from the judge, attorneys, or the attorneys. Bails were set at a million dollars each and all were remanded to the county jail.

Next, the bailiff announced, “The People of San Francisco against Dylan Matthews.”

I gasped when I saw Dylan approach the defendant’s table. His face looked like a Mafia hit man had worked him over with a baseball bat. His nose was swollen and both eyes blackened. What have those bullies done to my sweetheart, I wondered.

My ears tuned into the proceedings as the attorneys spoke and the judge then asked Dylan what he would do if she set him free on his own recognizance. Dylan’s words of defiance and his announcement of a fast stirred my heart so that I wanted to jump up and shout, “Hallelujah Gunsmoke, I’m with you,” but I bit my tongue and kept quiet.

I am not sure if he heard me say, “Dylan, Dylan, I love you,” when he left the courtroom, but the bailiff did. He pointed at me and shook his head at my outburst.

Oh, how I wanted to stick out my tongue at the bailiff, but I kept my lady-like composure by inwardly visualizing the action in my mind. The rebellious thought reminded me of my teenage years.

Oh well, I thought, now what?

(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which can be checked out here.)

(Continued in Part 11…the full series to date can be read here.)

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