[Writing] Peripheral Disappointment
Teddy was walking down the lifeless wooden corridor to the pre-trial. It was paradoxical, really, that the hallway he was walking through glowed with strong ambient-yellow fluorescent lights; the passage was radiating coldness. He knew what he was going to do
- hear them out, and plea for a non-guilty verdict. The trial would be held sometime else, but at least he wouldn’t have to deal with it now; this would buy him more time. He knew that it was cliché, but he couldn’t help but think about just 2 days ago, when everything was normal - the day of his interview.
“How do I look?” Teddy asked.
“You look like … wait, your tie’s off-centered,” replied Teddy’s father. He straightened Teddy’s tie and brushed his suit off. “You look like you’re ready now.”
“Well, good thing I came 20 minutes early then, right?”
“Yep. Good luck!”
“Thanks, dad.” Teddy stepped out the weathered Cadillac and onto the cement pavement. He headed towards the glass revolving doors; his shiny black shoes clicked on the sidewalk. He was only doing this for experience, although he also would receive an honourarium, given that the interview’s a success. With his suit and tie, he looked pretty intimidating, or at least as intimidating as a teen from high-school gets. He pushed open the revolving doors and strode to the lift.
“It seems like all your papers are in order, Mr. Cloud,” said the interviewer, knees crossed. Teddy was sweating. “So,” continued the interviewer, “tell me about some of your weaknesses and strong points…”
He arrived late; the judge of the pre-trial was not particularly happy with him, but he had made it. Teddy took the seat the judge gestured to and the pre-trial began….
Teddy slumped back to the car dejectedly - he knew he had screwed up on the interview. His dad was still there, idling by the curb, reading a book. When he saw his son approaching, he started, “How did it go?”
“Oh.” The smile lines on his face were slowly replaced by a grim look of defeat; the wrinkles were still there. His weariness caught the attention of Teddy. His dad noticed the suppressed surprised look on his face.
“Now, now. Don’t look at me like that. Second times the charm, right?”
Teddy retorted, “Well, it’s not fair! We barely have enough to scrape by even with you working full-time at McDonalds.”
“The world isn’t fair.”
With his comeback lost, he pried open the door and dropped into his seat; the car sped away, lunging forward every now and then as the brakes were applied.
Teddy had zoned out of the hearing - he barely heard himself when he pleaded for a “not-guilty”. To him, it was all meaningless banter. Just like that, it was over. The trial was to be held a week from today. As he was leaving, he thought about the gang.
Teddy knew about the local gang before. He’d run into them on some occasions. The gang was made up of a handful of older teens. They have made a lot of money by thievery: stealing from stores and selling the goods for a reduced price, of course. It fascinated Teddy. He’d make enough money to sustain himself and his dad. His dad wouldn’t have to work long hours to feed the 2 of them.
“So, you want to join us?”
“Meet me back here in 15 minutes.” <hr> “Are you even paying attention, Mr. Cloud?”
“Uh, no Your Honour. I mean yes Your Honour.” Teddy stammered.
“Currently,” the judge continued, “there is enough evidence to convict you. You are still sticking to your thing?”
“Yes, I have to.” The trial continued, in Teddy’s head, at least.
“You see that 7-11 convenience store over there? Bring me the … Let’s start off small - Bring me 3 packs of gum.” He picked his teeth with a toothpick. “Yeah, 3 should do. Then you’re in.”
Teddy didn’t say anything. He trotted off to the convenience store he pointed to. It was brightly lit, with a neon sign at the entrance. His confidence wavered slightly with each stride, but he didn’t let it show. His heart hammered; he could hear the pounding of his heart-beats in his ears. His legs had a slight tremble to them, but he carried on his wayward walk….
Teddy could see the jury starting to leave. The judge made a silent display of shaking his head in resignation. “You could have had it,” he whispered in Teddy’s direction. He might as well have not whispered at all, for Teddy had just caught a glimpse of his father leaving the courtroom, and he had not looked back once.