Monday, February 7, 2011

An hour to hang in the corridors of justice

Halls scattered with small ethnic groups talking different languages. Intense discussions, negotiations, calculations, speculations. Lawyers lurk making notes, planning tactics with clients in descending elevators. Game-plans echoing, reverberate at low pitch in over-engineered 1930's opulence; heavy brass, rich wood, smooth marble, in slow methodical curves and long straight runs. Airport style security installations intrude on the architecture, scratched glass dull aluminium, black rubber radar screening, conveyor belts empty contents of pockets confiscating digital devices.

Waiting for the part, waiting for the room, the whiteboard says misdemeanour the charge.
The little kiosk selling coffee and snacks in the foyer stocks a multitude of colourful painkillers and sedatives in plain evidence of the stress. Quick fix measures to get through the day, numb the anxiety, stop the flu cough, keep on top, ease the strain. I purchase a cup of coffee and on closer inspection of the disposable paper cup I am shocked by the subtle irony of the printed graphic: "Walter B. Laws' Law Coffee", wait for it... "Java For Your Journey"(!) Is that in or out? One lump or two? Black or white?

"EXCUSE ME!", "Yes sir?".

Silence returns to chatter. School yard for hard knock days revisited. A man in ragged jeans is traipsing the corridors clutching a tough leather belt looped in his large rough hand, vaguely threatening, oblivious, he passes us all by paying heed to no one. This place is almost verging on an asylum. People here suffering from their station, from their disadvantage, their social background (Theirs? or ours? and who are they? and who are we?). Surely personal pain may never be healed by incarceration? Maybe this is all just in this one hall? Maybe there are other halls with different types of offenders where the scene is less ruined and the people get off easier?

The EXIT sign says "Run, run... run to the light". The doorway beckons "Run to the light... but, forever run. On the run. Forever light. See the light. SEE, the light".

Image: restroom gaffiti, 'Harlem One'

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