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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)

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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Geezer Up (Part 9)

Jacob Cohen (J.C.) Bates and his wife, Shira, waited for me in their BMW outside San Francisco International Airport in the passenger arrival zone. I noticed J.C. packed on twenty extra pounds to his five-foot seven-inch frame, but it did not detract from his rugged good looks. Shira stood a couple of inches taller than him, but the difference seemed even greater because of her model-like figure. Both were Messianic believers and servants of Yeshua the Messiah.

“Shalom, Jane,” said J.C., jumping out of the car and greeting me with a hug and a kiss. “Here, let me put your suitcase in the trunk.”

“Thanks and shalom to you, J.C.,” I said, handing him my black suitcase.

“Even though this may not be the best of times for you,” said Shira, standing outside the BMW’s passenger door, and also hugging and kissing me, “I was so excited to see you again that I went out and spent J.C.’s money on this new black sweater. But as usual, you win the fashion prize with your blond hair, Levi jacket, and khaki slacks. You look fabulous.”

Her gracious words should have reddened my face, but instead, I broke down and wept. Shira hugged me even tighter.

“God will turn your mourning into dancing,” she whispered.

“I sure hope so.”

“Let’s keep moving,” shouted a stocky TSA agent, walking toward J.C.’s car. He pointed at us with a black baton to emphasize his point.

We obeyed and took off for their home.

 

If you have ever wondered what type of home three million dollars would purchase in San Francisco, J.C. and Shira’s condo on the fourth floor of a prestigious address in Nob Hill would be the answer. Twenty-three hundred square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen, formal dining room, large family room with stone fireplace, and captivating views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge through floor to ceiling windows. The furniture and decorations looked like they had been selected by a top Bay area interior decorator.

Shira served a tossed salad with grilled chicken for dinner, but I only moved the food around on my plate without eating much. As soon as possible, I excused myself and headed for the guest bedroom. There I unpacked, hung up my clothes in the closet, and sat down on the bed without changing out of my traveling clothes. Somehow, I closed my eyes and dozed off.

Then, I had a terrifying vision.

In it, I stood before the Judgment Seat of Christ. I wasn’t alone because hundreds of other believers stood there in numerous rows, waiting for the Judge − Jesus − to appear in front of us. I watched Him off to my left walking down my row with a torch in His right hand. He stopped in front of each believer, looked down, and lit piles of what looked like grass and sticks at the feet of each person with His torch. The piles burst into flames. Then, the piles quickly burnt out to reveal gold, silver, precious stones, or nothing but scorch marks on the ground. Those who had precious metals and stones bowed down and worshipped the Lord. Those who had scorch marks wailed and screamed like they were in hell, even though they were in heaven.

I looked down at my feet and saw a puny pile. I knew this small heap represented all of my works done on earth for the Lord. Not much for a whole lifetime, I thought. A holy fear enveloped me.

I turned and looked at the person next to me and realized it was a successful Christian businessman, whom I greatly admired. He was an elder at Jedidiah Smith Community Church, Sunday school teacher, weekend street evangelist, and well-known benefactor. The newspapers were always reporting on his philanthropy and many works.

I watched Judge Jesus bend over and light the businessman’s pile with His torch. The pile quickly burnt out to reveal nothing but scorch marks on the ground. The businessman fell to the ground and wailed at the top of his lungs. His screams echoed through my mind.

Oh no, I thought. If this businessman’s life did not please the Lord, how will mine be any better?

The Lord stood in front of me.

I looked into His eyes and knew His love was not on trial, but mine was at that moment. He bent over, ready to touch my puny pile with His torch.

“Lord, give me a second chance,” I pleaded.

He looked at me without straightening up. His torch remained close to my pile. “And what would you do differently?”

“I will serve you night and day without complaining. If need be, I will crawl on my knees across San Francisco on streets covered with broken glass to be Your ambassador. I will gladly carry cups of cold water to people and minister to them as Your servant.”

He straightened up and looked me squarely in the eyes. His love melted every hindrance in my heart. “Remember to do your works to please Me, not to please other people like the businessman did during his life. He received his reward on earth. Go and be My servant.”

I woke up and immediately slipped off the bed onto my knees. I worshipped the Judge, King, and Lover of my soul − my Lord Jesus.

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

(Continued in Part 10…the first 9 parts are reruns and can be read here.)

 

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