When you lose someone
That you never really had
And that losing feels like
What it means to die…When You Want Something, Smoking Popes
MARIA AND LIZ
Maria pulls her mother’s car into the police station lot and parks next to a police car. Then she grabs the bag of food and slams the door shut.
Why cant these aliens get busted somewhere nice like Tahoe or New Orleans? But it’s Utah. Mountains and Mormons, she thinks as she walks to the door to the jail in back. When she realizes she has said this out loud she looks around in embarrassment but the parking lot is deserted.
Liz is lying on a filthy cot when they let Maria into her cell.
I cant believe you’re here, Liz says.
Who am I, Liz? Maria says. Of course I’m here. Where else would I be right now? Now give me some shugga!
They embrace and Maria says, First of all I have some Crashdown food for you. Alien green lime pie.
Maria, if you were a boy I’d…
Dont go there, girlfriend, Maria says. Alright. Now I talked to everyone involved and got the total, unadulterated straight shit on all this. The judge and DA in this town are sweating it because they have to go before the town council next month for reappointment. Trouble is they havent caught a criminal in like a decade. I guess there’s not much crime here. So they’re out to nail your asses.
Liz puts the food down and stops chewing while Maria is talking.
Maria says, OK that’s all I have. But I thought you said you and Max were going to take it slow…
Izzie sees Jesse alone in the lobby. She stops and says, So what were you and my father holding back from us?
What do U mean?
I saw the look between you two earlier. Clearly you are not telling us the whole story.
Last year there was a robbery in the county, Jesse says. A kid died. No one was ever charged and the local prosecutor is taking a lot of heat for it so this town is looking for someone to hang. Max and Liz picked the wrong place to play Bonnie and Clyde.
Jesse’s cell rings and he talks briefly and hangs up.
That was your Dad, Isabel. They found some evidence.
Isabel buries her face in her hands and thinks that this will never end. Even if Max and Liz get off, this insane search for home will destroy us all.
OUT ON THE STREET
On the sidewalk outside of the building that houses the courtroom Liz’s Mom and Dad and Max’s Mom stand talking with the county prosecutor, an oily, obsequious little man named MacGregor who is smitten with himself. In the narrow, pallid street with a mountain view he speaks with feigned warmth.
He says smoothly, That’s just the way things work here, Mrs. Parker. Your daughter will be fine.
Philip walks up to them scowling and the prosecutor offers him a warm, moist hand to shake and Philip wonders where that hand has been lately. Philip shakes it coldly.
Liz’s Dad says, Mr. MacGregor was just telling us about the Salina court system.
MacGregor excuses himself and walks slowly away. He turns his head and says, Your daughter deserves her best shot.
What was that about? Philip says. You know he just wants our kids in jail.
Liz’s Mom says, Mr. MacGregor just said Liz and Max would be better off pleading guilty.
MacGregor means he would be better off. He’s a prosecutor. It’s his job to get a guilty plea.
Liz’s Dad Jeff’s face turns an angry red and his blood pressure is climbing. He says, But MacGregor says that if they plead not guilty it would antagonize the judge and he’d have them tried in criminal court.
Jeff, your blood pressure, Mrs Parker cries. Did you take your pill this morning?
You dont have to shout!
Philip silently reflects that some people are just too fucking stupid to live. And how could these clueless fools ever make a girl like Liz?
Jeff, if we plead guilty to a felony then there’s a case against them in criminal court. We cant give him that option. He wants to bury them both so deep in prison they’ll never get out. Believe me. I know what I’m saying. That man U were talking to is a prick. A high-level Sociopath who will do anything he has to to get a guilty plea. If they plead guilty I guarantee they will tried in criminal court. Look, our children are in this together. And know this: I am doing right by your daughter.
In a courtroom Max and Liz sit side by side, holding hands under the table. Judge Beale struts in, his robe swirling fashionably around his feet.
Judge Beale is like a dry fart, Philip says to himself.
Max hopes desperately that the judge is not a closet Nazi who has a hidden Hitler tatoo and always has swastikas dancing in his head. Max is shaking so hard it’s all he can do to control it. Liz’s face is ashen.
Beale motions Max and Liz to stand up. When they do Beale asks pontifically, Do you both understand the nature of the charges against you?
Yes, your honor, Max says quietly.
Yes, your honor, Liz says in a small voice.
How do you plead?
Not guilty, Max says.
Not guilty, Liz says.
Have a seat then. Mr. Evans and Mr. MacGregor, I’ve reviewed the material you submitted…
Your honor, Philip says, Before you rule on this I have additional material that I feel is critical to this case.
Alright, let’s see it then, Mr. Evans.
Thank you your honor. These are Utah court rulings where DNA evidence could be suppressed. In consideration of the fact that four strands of hair are the only physical evidence in this case and there are no priors on either defendant who are both honor students I ask that this matter be dismissed.
Thank you Mr. Evans, Beale says stiffly. I’ll take that under advisement. Max Evans, it is the decision of this court that you be released to the custody of your parents and that you be returned to your home state of New Mexico if you agree not to return to the state of Utah until your 21st birthday. Do you agree to that?
Yes, your honor, Max says, stunned.
Very good. Elizabeth Parker, your voice and height match the description of the person with the firearm. Armed robbery is one of the ten crimes punishable under the Utah Serious Shooter Offender Act. Therefore it is my decision to transfer your case to the criminal court where you will be tried as an adult.
But your honor, Philip says, There was no gun found. The only mention of guns was from a store clerk with a well documented history of emotional instability…
I have made my decision, Mister Evans, Beale says coldly. This is for another court to consider.
Beale rises and everyone rises and sits down. A guard appears to take Liz back to her cell. No one else has moved. And to this black, viscous silence the pallid light from an obscure and spectral sun plays weary counterpoint. Everything in the room seems thick and cloying and choking. It’s just the devil laughing when something horrible transpires, something you long ago relegated to a barrel of things that were so terrible you just knew none of them would ever happen 2U.
Kafka marches on.