Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Monday, July 29, 2019
UNDERSTANDING SASSIE, Ch. 9, "The Judge"
Ruth climbed the courthouse steps alone
and afraid. When she entered the courtroom,
it was already packed. She surveyed the
room and was surprised to see Toni and Jim in attendance. This fact disturbed her, and she hoped it was
not a bad sign.
It was not long before her name was
called. She stood before Judge Thomas
and looked up at a tall man in his 50’s with silver white hair. When the judge looked down at Ruth, his kind
face seemed to show compassion. Was she
imagining this; was it wishful thinking?
“I have received a message from the
prosecuting attorney in this case that they have requested a decision of public
service for your assault action.” The
judge continued, “This request is a kind act considering the severity of your
assault. Still I will honor this request
and order you to the Riverview Animal Shelter for your six-month probationary
The judge’s words seemed like an answer to
The judge was an animal lover and knew the
shelter needed more workers. He also
knew that Ruth was a farmer’s daughter; it seemed a perfect match. The judge continued, “You will report to Mrs.
Jane Huffman at 7 a.m. on Monday. She is
the supervisor of the shelter, and she will assign you the work schedule. You will report back to this court after your
six-month probation, and I will determine if your community service should be
extended or if I will consider your assignment completed. You are dismissed.”
Ruth wanted to thank the judge with a
hug. She was so happy that he had not
issued jail time. She knew that a hug
would not be appropriate but decided instead to ask Jim and Toni if they had
been responsible for the community service.
Turning to survey the courtroom, she discovered that they were no longer
in the room.
She thought more about Judge Thomas’s
ruling and was thankful for his decision but was unsure what her feelings would
be for the shelter’s animals. I will
think about that on Monday, Ruth decided.
She still had the weekend free, and at this moment she was going to head
Mom was setting the table for dinner when
Ruth arrived at the farm. As Ruth
entered the dining room, she found her mother standing with her back to the
Because Ruth was happy, she
decided to greet her mother like she did in the old days, “Hi, Mom. What’s for dinner?” Mom jumped and let out a terrified scream of
Startled, Ruth cried, “Mom! What’s wrong?”
Mom gave a sigh of relief to see that it
was just Ruth that startled her. Then she answered, “I am so embarrassed! You
surprised me! I’m so sorry about my
Puzzled by her mother’s explanation, Ruth
put her arms around her mother and encouraged her to sit. Ruth felt it was her turn to help her mother
relax, “I’ll get you some tea with honey and lemon. Sit here and talk to me while I prepare the
tea for you.”
Ruth entered the kitchen, and as she
prepared the tea, she decided it might be a good idea to talk to Pop about
Mom. She asked Mom again about
dinner. “What have you planned for
Mom’s reply made Ruth’s mouth water, “I
have a ham roast in the oven, with my special gravy. I’ve made mashed potatoes and a salad. I’ve also baked fresh crescent rolls.” Mom’s
reply sounded tired.
Ruth placed the cup of tea in front of her
“Mom,” Ruth said, “I have never seen you
so jumpy. Are you sure you’re all
Mom answered simply, “I’m only
tired.” She quickly drank the hot tea
and asked Ruth to make another cup.
Walking toward the kitchen, Ruth heard her mother say, “I’m not sleeping
well. It’s nothing to be concerned
about.” Then she added, “Could you bring a glass of water with that tea?”
Pop soon arrived home from milking the
cows. The meal was ready to be
served. “Hurry and wash your hands,” Mom
urged. Ruth did most of the talking
during their meal. She explained about
her court notification and the Judge’s ruling.
She added that she would begin her public service work on Monday at the
Riverview Animal Shelter. “I will need
to meet Mrs. Huffman at 7:00 a.m.,” Ruth explained. “She is the shelter’s supervisor.”
The rest of the dinner conversation
consisted of comments on the food and requests like “pass the rolls” or “more
Ruth noticed that her mother seemed to be
drinking a lot of water with her meal but decided it was just because they had
been eating a ham roast.
After dinner, as her mother cleared the
table, Ruth motioned for Pop to come outside to talk. Once they were outside, Ruth asked, “Can you
get an appointment for Mom with the family doctor?” Pop looked puzzled at the request and asked,
Ruth went on to tell about Mom’s scream
and added, “Mom keeps saying she is tired, and she seems to be drinking a lot
of water. She is jumpy and easily
startled most of the time.”
Pop thought about Ruth’s observations and
decided it would be wise to also get an appointment for himself. “That way I can tell your mother that I felt
it was a good time for us to get a routine check-up and I believe she will
agree to see the doctor.”
Pop set up the appointment for Wednesday
of the following week. Pop called it a “routine
check-up,” but the results of the tests did not end up in being routine.
In another part of
town, Donald was working with the Animal Control Officer. He enjoyed the flexible hours and his boss,
Mike, was a pleasant and friendly fella.
Donald thought, I’ve been able to
observe the community as well as keep an eye on Valerie. I’ll make her regret the day she threw me
away!I’m going to make her feel miserable!
She’ll be sorry for doing such mean and uncaring act toward me, her own
With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com: