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Midday Matinee – Tuesday’s Tale: Drive-Thru in the Courts

April 24, 2012

Midday Matinee

Midday Matinee – Tuesday’s Tale: Drive-Thru in the Courts

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Welcome back to Tuesday’s Tale, a weekly feature where we collaborate to write a story. Previous Tuesday’s Tales include The Sleep Clinic and Leave It to Beavers. We follow the basic rules of the “Yes, And” improvisational game – accept everything written so far as part of the story, and add your own paragraph (or so) where the last addition left off – except you needn’t begin your addition with “Yes, and.” I’ll start the story….


“Are you sure this is a good idea, Your Honor?” Lily asked as she set up her steno stand. “It seems a bit … brusque.”

“Nonsense,” Judge Wallace Williams Wallingham said. Brusquely.

Lily nodded.

Judge Wallingham, while brusque, was not blind to the human condition. Lord knows he’d seen enough of it in twenty-three years on the bench. From traffic tickets to felonies, from wills to divorces, he had ruled on almost every variation of human malice, thoughtlessness, and stupidity. The combination of a baseless complaint about lawyers slipping him money across the bench and the closure of a fast food burger joint seemed to offer the perfect idea. He’d convinced the county to buy the burger joint, label one lane for plaintiffs and the other for defendants, and open a drive-thru courtroom. The bailiff was outside, directing traffic. The only other person in the courtroom was Lily, the court reporter. Judge Wallingham didn’t even need to wear a robe, although he’d put it on anyway out of habit.

Still, Lily looked upset and the judge didn’t like to upset her. Chief among his reasons was that he and Lily had been married for twenty-one of those twenty-three years, having first exchanged furtive glances while she transcribed a bench conference in a case that involved a missing weed whacker and a plastic bag of dog manure that was offered as evidence. Each had liked the way the others’ nose wrinkled, and the rest – as they say – was history.

“I know it seems short,” he said, “but you know the average case only takes a few minutes anyway. Out there in their cars, they can relax, listen to music, do whatever they want while they wait in line. No sitting on hard wooden benches, watching what happens to the cases ahead of you, getting nervous. I think they’ll like it, actually.”

“I guess,” Lily said. Doubtfully.

“So who’s up first?” he called to the bailiff over a walkie-talkie.

“Kevin Kratchwurth versus Ruth Anne Rannigal,” the bailiff answered. “They dated and broke up. Kratchwurth says she won’t return his collection of stuffed pandas. They’ve both been sworn in.”

“Send them up,” the judge said. He switched on the microphones at the windows. “Okay Mr. Kratchwurt. Tell me what happened.”

“Well shhhhhhhhhhachhhhhhhhh and then shhhhhhhhhhachhhhhhhhh and she shhhhhhhhhhachhhhhhhhh.”

Lily smiled. For the first time in her career as a court reporter, the people’s words sounded like her stenographer’s marks.


Have fun!

  • winterbanyan

    “His name is Kratchwurth,” Lily corrected quietly, wondering if the speakers would pick up her voice.

    “I don’t care. What does it matter? What the hell did he just say?”

    Lily fought the urge to remind him that this was all his idea. “He said that he wants his pandas back.”

    “Pandas! What’s he run, a zoo?”

    Lily looked down at her steno machine so she wouldn’t roll her eyes. The smell of hamburgers in this place was still strong enough that her stomach wanted to roll with her eyes. “You know, Wallace…”

    “It’s judge when we’re holding court and don’t even go there. Mr. Kratchins, what do you want pandas for?”

    Shsstiweiiiiitil….. screeeeeeeech!

    Wallace reared up. “Are you swearing at me? That’s contempt of court!”

  • NCrissieB

    “He wasn’t swearing,” Lily said. “He said the stuffed pandas are his. He’s been collecting them for three years and he wants to display them in a case in his living room.”

    “Wait,” the judge said. “You can make sense of that static?”

    “It sounds just like my steno marks,” Lily said. “We may have discovered the original human language.”

    “Assuming the original humans had a drive-thru,” the judge said. “Okay, Ms. Rannigal, what’s your defense?”

    “I fwizzzzzzzzzzzgarrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeek.”

    The judge looked at Lily.

    Lily blushed. “She said the plaintiff never put the stuffed pandas in a display case in the living room when they were together. He lined them up around the bed.”

  • addisnana

    Ruth Ann Rannigal said, “I mmmmmssavvvinggg hiiisss nexxxt grlfrnd from makkkking luvvv in a tttoy sssstttttor.”

    The judge looked at Lily, “I almost think that I understood her, but just in case could you translate?”

    Lily said, “Ruth Ann claims that she is saving his next girlfriend the embarrassment of making love in a toy store.” I bet it’s weird being watched by a bunch of pandas.

    The judge asked both of them just how many pandas there were.

    Ruth Ann replied, “twwwwnnnttty” and Kevin repied, “twwwnnnnty argggggg.”

    Both people in their cars started speaking at once. The judge tried to say, “Order in the burger joint,” but it didn’t have the judicial seriousness of “Order in the Court” at all. At “order in the burger Joint,” Lily’s rebellious stomach finally overcame her tenuous control and she lost her breakfast on the Judge’s shoes and splashed the bottom of his robe.

    At this point the Judge was having serious second thoughts about drive-thru justice.