From the Isolation Booth

My brother’s trial continues, and I remain in the conference room that I described the other day. Mainly what I do here is listen to music, surf the web, and read (Today I finished an early one from Lawrence Block and I’m working my way back through one of the Travis McGee series — on Friday I read a pop history book on the Regency era.) I exchange greetings with the occasional participant, passerby, or bailiff, and some of my parents’ neighbors have come in to say hello, but in many respects, I feel like a contestant on an old game show, sitting in “the soundproof booth” while other contestants do their thing.

Occasionally, however, I come outside my little room and walk down the hallway to get a drink of water or a Dr. Pepper, or just to stretch my legs. When I come back, I look through the windows of the doors to the courtroom proper. I never see my brother there — the angle is wrong. However, I sometimes see a member of the prosecution team, and usually a camera or two.

I also see people I don’t know, siting on the prosecution’s side of the room. I’ve come to recognize the media people, although it remains at the level of nodding acquaintance. I don’t recognize the others — I wonder if they’re people who knew my parents, but some of them seem too young for that. An African-American woman of middle years shows up each day and sits on that side as well. 

As I said, I don’t think I know them, and I wonder a little bit about why they’re here. When I see them, they don’t seem filled with some sort of prurient fascination, but without some sort of personal connection, I don’t know why they’re here — the seats aren’t that comfortable.

For that matter, I can’t really explain why I’ve chosen to be here — I may not testify until next week, after all. So why do I come and sit in a small room from about 8 until about 5 each day? I still don’t have a logical answer for that — maybe a sense of duty, maybe the feeling that I represent my parents in a more direct way than the State. Maybe it’s just that I have an inexplicable sense that this is the right place for me to be, and I’ve decided to listen to that.

When I wrote my parents’ obituary, Mrs. M gave me some wise advice: “Say as much as you want to say, because it will be the only time you’ll be able to say it in this way.” I think this situation is like that. I likely won’t be needed, apart from my testimony. Nonetheless, this is something that I hope will only happen once, and so I think I need to be here, just in case.

In case of what? It doesn’t matter, really. It’s just the right place for me to be, even on an unseasonably hot Kentucky afternoon.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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6 Responses to From the Isolation Booth

  1. Karen Craigo says:

    I’ve started a dozen comments, but I don’t know what to say. Words fail me — although YOUR words are moving and beautiful. A gasp, a hum — those come closest. The “ohm” of “I’m present with you.” You’re not alone in your little room. Ohm.

  2. Karen Craigo says:

    You may be seeing some print reporters. I used to do that.

    • profmondo says:

      Yeah, I recognize at least a couple of those. The ones who puzzle me are the ones in casual clothes, sans notebooks, just-plain-folks types. A pair of them just walked past a few minutes ago. Just tourists, perhaps.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I actually thought about going and maybe I can help explain who these people are. They could be people like me that knew Mike from school or from when we were kids and just want to try to get a glimpse of what on earth he is thinking. No one can understand how this all went wrong. I’ve thought many times – how did things go this wrong, get this bad, go SO far south? You guys were the sweetest family, very polite, and just good natured people. I mean even on the 911 call you hear that boy say yes, ma’am, no ma’am – just the southern sweetness of a good kid from TN. But somewhere it went wrong. And we all feel like we want to know how he is living day to day now. He has to be clean now, I would think. How can he go on? What is he saying? Does he try to believe what he’s saying? Is he so far gone to not have any conscience about this at all? Does he even remember totally what happened that night since he was probably sky high? That’s what we all want to know. I guess it’s an exercise in tackling the psychology of it all. I surely can’t figure it out. And honestly, I’m betting those people in the courtroom will be more confused at the end of the day than they were in the morning. You can’t explain the inexplicable. But I have faith in you, Smitty, my good man. Because you are sane. And you are intelligent. And you are faithful to your family and your family’s honor.

    I don’t know what you are hoping for out of this whole trial (other than the relief that it is over – that I’m pretty sure about). If I were you, I wouldn’t know what I would be hoping for. But no matter what happens, know that you have a blue million people on your side. Even people that barely know you, but knew your family, or maybe just Mike. We all just want everyone to go back to that good natured, sweet southern, polite Mayberry existence. But alas, we can’t get there. It’s too late. And we miss it.

  4. Carrie says:

    While I’m no psychiatrist, I’d say you are there daily for a combination of the reasons your listed here. All that really matters is that something inside of you has told you it’s the place to be at this time. I know you miss Mrs. M and Spawn, but they are there with you in heart.
    When my paternal grandparents passed away, I sat there with my aunt and uncles during funeral arrangements because my father had passed before them. I felt like it was my responsibility to represent him. It was simply what felt right to my heart!

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