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Chapter 3: Scene 9: Begining the Trial


       I can't believe I'm here. Yesterday, I woke up a ranch kid in my own bed. Then we went to the hearing in Wheatland where nothing went like I expected. I figured Mom and me would go in, the judge would give me a mean talking to, and maybe put me on probation and I'd go home.

       We walked into the courtroom, me, Mom and Mr. Jackson, the lawyer Pete told her to hire. Jackson took me up to a table in front and Mom sat behind us in the first row of chairs behind a wood fence. Jackson had this plaid jacket on and a tie even. Nobody wears ties in Wheatland except maybe at funerals and not always then. I bet Pete don't even own a tie. Jackson plunked a brief case down on the table, like he was somebody important. He pulled on me to stand up when the judge came in.

       Old man Shields just won election for judge . He's a lawyer, but a wheat farmer, too, like most everybody else in Carroll County . He still has a white forehead and a sunburned face. We see him all the time in town, but when he came in he looked different, mostly because he had a black robe on. He sat down at a table higher up than ours so he could look down on us.

       Then the judge said the hearing was open and the whole pack of them started in on me. The juvenile officer , the judge, the sheriff , and worst of all, Roy Fletcher.

       John stole money.

       John knocked Roy Fletcher out.

       John smarts off to his uncles at home.

        Like that's a crime .

ThinkLink: Have you ever beenn a situation where everyone but you was deciding what would happen to you?

       While Jackson thumbed through a pile of papers in his brief case , trying to come up with something good to say for me, I looked around at Pete and Red in the back row. It surprised me how much they look alike, almost like it was my first time seeing them. Same sharp noses, and chins that stick out, only Pete has dark hair and Red's hair is sort of faded orange. Pete looked at the ceiling and Red looked out the window. I'd had the crazy idea they'd come to speak up for me, to tell how I could go back to the ranch with them, but they hadn't said word one.

       Roy Fletcher leaned against the side wall, hands greasy, like always, but at least wearing a clean shirt. He had this little smile on his face like, "I gotcha now, kid."

       And why was Norman Ryan, the guy Mom met at the Grange Hall , sitting in the back row? Guess so he could go back and talk about us to all the nosy old folks there. Last thing Mom needs is a guy around. Between my dad and Pete, you'd think she's had enough pushing around.

       Even Mom didn't look like herself. Because she was in a dress, maybe, instead of jeans. She just sat there picking at a piece of dry skin next to her thumbnail and listening to all the bad things they told on me. She looked so worried it scared me.

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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