After many hours, we were called back into the courtroom. DH went to the defendants’ table while his nephew, DD and I reclaimed our seats in the spectator’s section with the tell-tale bit of trash still on the floor. In all that time, it still hadn’t been cleaned. The jury filed in then there was the bailiff’s call to “all rise” while the judge entered. The command came for everyone to be seated. With the proclamation that court was in session, it was underway.
One by one, the defendants’ names were called and the judge would go through the routine each time, asking the foreman of the jury if they’d reached a verdict. The answer was always the same—“We have, Your Honor.” The charges would be read and then either “guilty” or “not guilty” pronounced. For the other four, most of the charges carried a “guilty” result.
Then it was DH’s turn. Our lawyer stood beside him and they faced the jury. The judge and the foreman did the prescribed back and forth. I wanted to get up and scream, “Just get on with it! I’ve waited too long!” but I sat still and held my tongue. I don’t remember how many charges there were. It might not have been as many as it seemed. It probably wasn’t but whenever one was read, the foreman would intone, “NOT guilty!” That went on for the whole list. DH turned to look at me with an expression on his face that spoke volumes and then he turned back to our lawyer with a hearty handshake. For him, it was over. The others had to come back to court for sentencing. They were led off in handcuffs and court was adjourned.
DH came back to where we were and hugged me for a long time. It was like he never wanted to let go but after all those months, I was so wrung out from the stress I could have collapsed right there. My body was tired, my mind was tired, I couldn’t believe the need to crawl into a dark corner and recuperate. I’d been going on nervous energy and when the let-down came, it was intense.
On the way back to the West Bank we passed the little restaurant with the sign. Out of habit, I said, “Stuffed artichokes!” All of a sudden, DH steered the truck (we were in the ancient pickup) off the highway and into the postage stamp parking lot. He told me to wait right there and went inside. He was holding a brown paper bag when he came out and he passed it to me when he got back in the driver’s seat. It was warm and the smells coming from it were wonderful! I was actually feeling human again!
We got to the house and I opened the bag. The artichoke was wrapped in wax paper and then in several thicknesses of newspaper. It was stuffed with a bread mixture that had fresh-ground black pepper as its main seasoning. I don’t know what else it had. There was no visible meat but I’ve wondered since if it was altogether vegetarian because DH wouldn’t eat any of it. Whether it was or not, it was delicious. I’d finally had my stuffed artichoke.
Sometime later, we all went out to a nice restaurant to celebrate. I don’t remember what we ate except for dessert. It was Bananas Foster. The chef brought a cart with an alcohol burner to the table and prepared it right there. This is Brennan’s version of the recipe:
Brennan’s Banana Foster
1/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
1/4 cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.
When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Oh! It was lovely! What a way to end a nightmare!
I know it was a relief to my sister-in-law to get her house back to herself. I’d done what I could to help but it wasn’t much. I kept the place picked up, cooked and washed dishes when we weren’t out running around. We bought lots of groceries and she’d get upset because of the extravagance. She was very frugal and felt like we were spendthrifts but we were trying to contribute to ease the extra expense she was bound to have.
One thing I did do that I wouldn’t want to repeat is helping to clean one of their rental apartments. My BIL had gone to one of those “get rich quick” seminars that sold information on how to buy real estate and make your fortune. He’d invested in several duplexes in an iffy part of New Orleans and was renting them out. Their latest tenants had moved out with no notice and left the place a wreck. We hauled off loads of garbage and I had the job of cleaning out the refrigerator. It was an older one with ice trays in the freezer. The ice trays still had ice in them and frozen in the ice were roaches. I could have lost my lunch right there. I’ve read that roaches are hardy and can withstand freezing but I didn’t try to find out. I washed them down the sink. Thankfully, that was the only apartment we had to clean and my BIL has since gotten out of real estate.
The next order of business was to GO HOME! It had been far too long since we’d been able to be a normal family. DH could get back to flying and I could rest up from all the stress. Life was good?