After having been away for six months, I returned to Dallas and went to the county courthouse. I was appointed in a court as a lawyer to represent some criminal defendants and began working on their cases. I went to judge Schwille's court to use the computer to look up the defendants and their records.
While in Schwille's court, I decided to put my name in the box used there to draw the names of lawyers who would be appointed to represent defendants in that court. It was about 8:30 a.m., the time when the drawing was supposed to take place. A line of lawyers had formed to put in their names and I got into the line.
Suddenly I felt someone tap me on the back of my right shoulder. I turned around and thought I saw Rhonda, the court reporter, but then I noticed Payne (a former client) standing next to me. I asked him how he had been and whether everything had gone all right in his bankruptcy case which I had been handling for him. When he said things hadn't gone completely all right, I asked, "What happened?"
He said he would tell me later. I then saw several people I knew in the courtroom. My ex-wife Louise was standing there and looked incredulous to see that I had returned. Other people also seemed surprised to see me. Most people seemed to think I had been in Europe. I began explaining to someone that I hadn't actually gone to Europe. Instead, I told them, I had spent two months in my Cabin, two months in Quebec, Canada and two months on an island in the Caribbean.
However, I couldn't remember the name of the island in the Caribbean where I had been. The name "Puerto Rico" kept going through my head, but I knew it hadn't been Puerto Rico because the island I had been on had been French-speaking. I knew it was likewise not Haiti or the Dominican Republic. But I couldn't remember its name and felt embarrassed because I had just come from there.
I began circulating more around the court room. Paul Light (a Dallas lawyer) had somehow managed to stick his head into the box which held the names, had gotten his head stuck inside it and was trying unsuccessfully to pull the box off.
I saw Vestal, the court administrator; but she didn't seem that friendly. I thought perhaps she was upset with me about something, but was unsure. Finally the lawyers, about 30 of us, all sat down in chairs. The room seemed like a big classroom. Louise stood in front and began calling out names and asking lawyers what they wanted to do with certain cases. Apparently this was a new procedure which Louise had instituted to go over any problems which may have arisen. I wondered if Schwille had instructed her to do so. I thought it was better than just going down to the courthouse cafeteria for a half hour every morning.
Each lawyer had a piece of paper with his name written on it and when Louise would call out, the lawyers would hold up their pieces of paper to show they were here.
All the lawyers had been given numbers. Louise called out the number "600" which apparently was Louise's number. Louise was sitting in the row to my right and was one seat farther back then I. She was dressed in some very plain-looking blue clothes. Her hair was black and frizzy-looking. Louise asked Louise what she wanted to do with a case and Louise said she wanted to pass it to the next day. She called out Louise's number again. Apparently Louise had been having some conflict with someone about that particular case and likewise wanted to pass it.
As I looked around the courtroom, I realized I really hated being there. I would probably be here for about six months and then would leave again. I felt completely out of place here, although I felt confident I could do a good job.
I hadn't yet put on my tie and was going to have to do so. Suddenly judge Schwille walked into the courtroom just as I was preparing to put on my black tie. Schwille likewise was holding a tie in his hand which he hadn't yet put on. He walked back to me; he seemed to have been expecting to see me here. He seemed very friendly and said, "Now I want you to tell everybody that you brought the Rock of Gibraltar back with you."
I was unsure what he had meant by that. Apparently he also thought I had been in Europe the entire six months I had been gone. I was going to have to explain to him where I had been.
I walked out of the room and went into a side room to put my tie on. I then realized I had been smoking a cigarette while I had been talking with the judge, something I had only begun doing since I had left Dallas. I wondered if the judge had noticed.
The room I was in was like a closet. It didn't actually have walls, but only, hanging from the ceiling, strips of wallpaper separating it from the courtroom. I began trying to tie my tie but had difficulty because I didn't have a mirror. I tied it the best I could and finally a fellow I knew named Kent passed by and I asked him if it looked all right. He said it looked OK.
Haim Habib walked up. I was surprised to see him here and said, "Haim!"
I asked him what he was doing here and whether he was going to do some work in Schwille's court. He asked me if I worked here and I told him I did. I told him I had gotten six appointments the day before and that I made about $300 a day here. But I thought I actually only made about $500-$600 a week there.
He seemed a little nervous and walked on into the courtroom. I had the feeling Haim hadn't passed the legal bar exam and he therefore hadn't been practicing law. I didn't know what he had been doing.
Finally I did see a mirror in the room and looked at myself. My hair had grown quite long and I was wearing a very peculiar pair of glasses. They were black and looked like aviators glasses. They fit on the face like goggles although the glass part was quite small. The rims were very thick. I definitely looked different from any of the other lawyers there.
I walked back into the courtroom to begin working on my cases.
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