Chapter 8

The Judge

Knock, knock, knock! Lila stood impatiently at the door waiting for the judge to answer it. Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock….

“I’m coming! I’m coming!” the judge yelled from behind the door. “Don’t get your pantyhose in such a knot!” He opened the door to find his old high school sweetheart still knocking in the air. “Oh, sorry, Lila.” The Judge chuckled. “To what do I owe this privilege?”

If he wasn’t known for being the Justice of the Peace he could easily be mistaken for Santa himself. His soft, curly, white beard and mustache framed a kindly face with big blue eyes. Two bushy, white eyebrows added to his animated character. His head was smooth and shiny for the lack of hair, and he even had a Santa Claus belly that bumped up and down as he laughed.

“I need an eviction notice right now, David.”

“Good to see you too, Lila. Won’t you come in?” The judge opened the door and lifted his hand towards the study. “Have a chair and tell me who you’re evicting and why!”

“I’m evicting my sister and that no-good-liar-of-a-husband of hers from my home.” Lila stuck out her lower lip and threw the deed on the desk. “As you can see…I have every right to kick them out.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a bit harsh, my old friend? Kash and Amber are fine people.”

“Don’t pretend to understand our family situation, Judge. Just give me the eviction notice.”

“To the point as ever, aren’t you, Lila?” He studied the document for a few seconds and reached into his desk, pulling out a black folder and a pen. “It’s too bad that it’s come to this.” He thumbed through several different forms, finally finding the one he needed and set it out to be signed. “Are you sure you want to do this, Lila? It could damage your relationship with your sister beyond repair.”

“Just drop it, Judge, and sign the notice.” Lila was fuming and all she could think about was seeing the shock on her sisters’ face when she had the policeman serve the notice.

“You have no reason to be rude to me, Lila, because you’re mad at your sister,” the judge said patiently. He closed the book, moved around to Lila’s side and sat on the corner of the desk. “You know I’ve only wanted the best for you all these years, don’t you?”

Lila visibly softened as the judge touched her arm. “I know, David,” she said in a calmer tone. “I’m sorry. You’ve always been good to me and I do appreciate your help.”

They both got up and walked to the door arm in arm. “Let me know if there’s anything else you need, Lila. I’m always here.”

“Thank you, David. I’ll talk with you soon.” Lila headed directly to the police station. She didn’t want to waste a minute more. By the time she got there she had already worked herself back into a frenzy.

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Kash drove into the driveway cautiously, glancing around to see if there was anyone in sight. The front door of the house was still opened and the lights were still on. It appeared as though the coast was clear.

“OK, Trevor–you do your thing and I’ll do mine. I’ll meet you at the car in five minutes max! Do the best you can on the shed to secure it. You’ll find some wood in the garage and the tools are inside the shed.” Kash ran into the house and started throwing clothes, pictures and any personal papers he could find in garbage bags and tossed them into the back seat of the car. He went back into the living room and stood in the middle to think. Mentally he moved from room to room trying to remember anything he may have forgotten that was important. Trevor burst in the back door and scared Kash out of wits. He jumped to the side, knocking the vase off the coffee table.

“You’re trying to give me a heart attack, aren’t you?” Kash reached over to pick up the vase. It was a heavy piece of pottery that Mattie had made for him and Amber when she was in high school. “Oh…I nearly forgot this.” It reminded him of easier times and he slowly lowered himself down on the couch in a melancholy state of mind, reminiscing as he stared at the vase.

After a few seconds Trevor interrupted his stroll down memory lane. “Sir, we’d better go. The shed is finished, though it’s not the best repair job I’ve ever done.”

Kash remembered that Lila would be on her way back and could arrive at any moment. He tucked the vase under his arm and said, “You’re right…let’s go!” Trevor ran out while Kash turned off all of the lights and stood in the doorway for one last goodbye to the old house. “Good bye,” he said softly. “I’ll be back for you, Mattie… somehow!” He flipped the lock and slowly pulled the door shut behind him. As he started down the steps he remembered he still had the key and returned it to its hiding place under the flower pot by the door.

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Lila stormed into the police station, stomping up to the front desk.

“May I help you, Ms. Graham,” said the sergeant, who had recently come on duty and was in a pleasant mood.

“Yes,” snapped Lila. “I need an officer to serve a notice right now!” She slammed the eviction papers on the counter for him to see.

“I’m afraid we don’t have an officer available in the precinct right now. How about tomorrow morning? Would that be alright?” He smiled kindly as he handed the paper back to her.

Lila snatched the notice out of the sergeant’s hand and replied sharply, “No, it won’t be alright. I have to do this tonight! RIGHT…NOW!”

The smile on the officer’s face melted into a frown. “OK, Ms. Graham,” he said quietly, trying to calm her down. “I’ll see if I can find a policeman that could meet you over at the house. Would that be satisfactory to you?”

Lila curtly thanked the officer and left. She was so angry she could hardly see to drive. When she arrived, the policeman was standing on the porch waiting for her. She got out of the car, slamming the door and met the officer half way up the steps.

“Evenin’, Ms. Graham.” The officer tipped his hat courteously. “The sergeant said you needed some help over here to serve an eviction notice right away. It looks to me like you’re too late. No one’s here.”

If anger could glow in the dark, Lila could have been mistaken for an enormous fire fly. She took four unusually large steps towards the flower pot by the door and tipped it on its’ side. To her surprise, the key was exactly where Kash said it would be. “Well…what do ya know? He actually kept his word and left me the key.” She turned to the policeman, thanked him for his prompt attention and sent him on his way. Lila stood in front of the door for several minutes before unlocking it. Her hands shook as she inserted the key. When she pushed the door open and stepped through the frame she felt the familiar sense of finally being home again. It had been eight lonely years since she’d been inside. When she flipped on the light she expected to see a mess from the hasty departure of her sister. As her eyes wandered affectionately around the room she could see that everything was in perfect order. A flood of rich memories rushed in from the many happy years with her parents and sister in the old house. Seeing the family portraits and the familiar trinkets that were displayed lovingly throughout the room started the tears flowing again. The carpet was new and some of the decorations were different, but there was the same deep feeling of joy she had always experienced when she came home from being away.

Unexpectedly she felt a stabbing pain of regret for her actions and mean spirited comments towards Kash, the Judge, Marlene and everyone else she had verbally spit at throughout the day. She closed the door and began a tour of the house savoring every step as though each was a delicious morsel of food. She started with her old bedroom that Amber had made into a guest room after Lila had left. It was nothing less than lovely and she could see that her sister took excellent care of the place since their parents had disappeared. She opened the closet door and it was empty as though they had anticipated her return. She felt guilty about the way she had treated her sister and her family for all those lost years.

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Kash paced the floor in front of the window trying to think of a solution to get Mattie back. His eyes were locked on the flickering light from the sign that was diffused through the sheer curtains. They had gotten the last available motel room and had sort of settled in for the night. Trevor was lying in the middle of his sagging, narrow bed with his bare feet dangling over the bottom edge. He was taller than the bed was long. His head was propped up by the pillow, facing the TV, though he appeared to be in sort of a trance.

“Oh, crap!” bellowed Kash. Trevor popped his head up off the pillow to see what was wrong. “I forgot the Book of Ancestors.” He threw his hands up in the air, slapped them down to his side and started walking in a tight circle, mumbling to himself. “I’ve got to get it tonight! How can I sneak past Lila? I’ll bet she plans to stay in her old room, too! Oh my goodness; oh… my…” Kash stopped still in his footsteps. “That’s it!” he shouted. There’s got to be something in the book of Ancestors that’ll tell me how to get Mattie back.” Kash turned to Trevor and announced, “We’ve got to go back when she’s asleep!”

Trevor dropped his jaw, plopped his head back on the pillow and rolled his eyes. “Not again! Is there no end to this nightmare?”

CHAPTER 9

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