Shades of Hemingway / Medium Exposure Part 7, Justice is an Angel

*Author’s note:  This is part 7 of 13 parts, to better understand the contents of the story it is suggested that you scroll back to the Prelude.

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There is something about a courthouse that is not unlike being in a public library.  As you wander about trying to make your court appearance on time and then sit waiting for your case to be called, the halls of justice echo with the past.  Portraits of judges and politicians line the walls.  Marble floors ‘click-clack’ with high heeled foot steps.  The swishing of passers by who know where they are going seem to lull you into a sense of resignation and foreboding.  No matter what they may say, in the criminal justice system you ARE a number.

Arbitration helps the matters of the magistrate settle disputes quickly.  My case was against the county and not the Hemingway Estate because they decided not to press charges.  I was counseled to enter a guilty plea to a ‘criminal mischief” charge, pay the fine, court costs and be on my merry way.  Which I did.   I was happy with the gentleman that helped me.  He had been a lawyer once and was now retired  He volunteered his time to help folks like me.  I imagined it was like a shark returning to the blood fest and offering condolences to the victim.

Once I had paid my debt to society, I was more than happy to leave and take the remarkable experience of witnessing the citizenries tax dollars hard at work home with me.  I was free.  There was nothing left for me to do but gather the paltry belongings that I had taken from my room, head to the Key West Bight and wait for my ride back to the civilized world I had left behind.

But as I was walking through the courtroom lobby I stopped and lingered for a moment at some Key West History display.  Then casually looking over at a group of people I saw Manolo amongst them.  I glanced at the other faces but didn’t see the men that had been with him at My Blue Heaven the day before.  But that didn’t matter.  Manolo had seen me and apparently this time he remembered seeing me from before.  I didn’t have time to think if it was from the restaurant or the Green Parrot that I seemed familiar to him.  At that point it didn’t matter if it was from one location or the other or both that I had piqued his interest, because he was headed in my direction.

Panic raced down my throat while my feet wore galoshes cast in ice.  Manolo had a cool and calm look on his face, like that of an assassin.  I knew I was a goner.  Somehow he was connected to Officer Jordan, I thought.  He was there, he had to know something about his death.  He must have been involved… that’s why Robert had sent me there in the first place.  It became obvious to me.  Manolo knew who had killed Robert Jordan.  My blundering into the bar announcing that Officer Jordan had sent me six weeks ago was all he needed to surmise I knew something I shouldn’t.  I figured out what Hem was trying to tell me in my dream two nights ago about exposing the killer.  I had been directed to the Green Parrot to flush out the killer.  Papa said yesterday at the library that we were still in the cycle of the death moon, the killer might kill again.  It all connected.  Manolo the Gazer was the killer, he had to be… and now he had his sights dead on me.

There in that courthouse, surrounded by the epitome of law and order I felt more vulnerable than ever.  I wanted to move, I tried to run away but I couldn’t.  Gazer had me in his tractor beam and was reeling me in.  I wanted to cry out but my throat was bulging with the bile I choked back.  He came closer; a menacing, determined look on his face.

Just as my doom seemed certain the double doors to the court room flew open and people started to exit out into the large foyer. I stepped back instinctively as a young woman barged through the crowd and blindly sideswiped me.  I caught her with my arm, spun her around and looked into the face of an angel.  The face I knew from the Golden Earring and the dream I had had the night before.  It was Robert Jordan’s “Rachel” and looking up she recognized me as if for the first time.

“You!” she spoke softly; eyes wide, sounding as if in disbelief.

“Me,” I responded, steadying her with my arm, “we meet again.”

“Why are you here?”

“You mean in this exact spot? or on the earth in general?  Because if I had to guess it would be in order to once again have my faith restored.”

“Faith…?” her voice trailed off.  It was Casablanca, only a happier ending.  Ilsa would remain with Rick.  They would witness the end of the war, marry, have children, grow magnificently old together…

“My faith in beauty… I had nearly lost hope, but you have made me a believer again.”

Normally I wouldn’t have tried that line again, usually I am not that glib or quick on my feet anyway.  But this was like no chance meeting I had ever experienced before.  My voice was sure and confident… almost scripted for the event, the words felt new and true.  Our eyes locked, transferring data.  She felt limp, vulnerable while I never felt so masculine.  I wanted to protect her, hold her… experience her.  What God had created was for me a religious epiphany.  I was saved.  I felt like a new man.  She smiled, I loosened my arm a little. 

“Oh, ye of little faith.” She escaped me then; backing away until, briefly, only our hands touched.  Then she dropped it and coyly stepped beyond my reach… smiling, leaving me to grope for her but only succeeding to grasp at the air.

“My Angel.” I said.  She leaned away from me then, slowly but deliberately.   I watched her float down the hall and out of sight.  She looked back at me as she rounded a corner, eyes beckoning like she knew and owned me.

“My Angel.” I whispered and I believed it, because after she had gone my confidence faltered as I looked around for Manolo, ready to face his judgement.  But he was nowhere to be seen, she had staved off my nemesis with a flick of her aura.

I stepped outside the courthouse, resigning myself to what might have been.  I had my life neatly sewn together back in Ft. Myers.  No spontaneity was allowed.  I had a business to run and pieces to pick up.  I reasoned that it was just as well because I probably wasn’t emotionally ready for any type of a relationship anyway.  I imagined my dreaming of her as Jordan’s “Rachel” was just an echo of my meeting her earlier yesterday.  Though she had seemed a different person then, more confident, distant and aloof.  Now, if only for that moment, she had been approachable and responsive.  Our conversation had practically been the same as we had had before, only the terms seemed different… outside our realm of control.

I crossed the street and walked towards Mallory Square.  Traffic was fairly busy and I was content just to make my way to the water, wait for the Key West Express and chalk up this experience in the annuals of my miserable existence.  Some things weren’t meant to be, I was thinking.  I walked along, lost in my thoughts, pretending that Rachel and I might have had a go under different circumstances.  I amused myself with several scenarios until the opening of a van’s sliding door caught my attention.  I followed the sound and faced the street just as everything went dark…

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