The Night Before
I couldn't sleep. I was anxious. My sleep pattern had been blown asunder by a virus that had struck the three of us living here. This night wasn't any easier. The young one woke just as I was drifting off, it was 4 am. This time the solution was Daddy. Usually it's Mama. I sat on the edge of the bed rocking her in my arms. I hummed softly. I remembered a tune I learned by Liam Clancy. It was about a sailor leaving his ship as the voyage was over. I hummed deeply rocking with one arm. My memory drifted back to similar moments with my son at the same age. That child was normally Daddy's job to lull to sleep, to give the bottle after breast feeding had finished, to wake up early at the weekends so Maman could lie in. I did it willingly but now look back with questions and some self reproach. However there is no point. We are in the here and now and still she is drifting in and out. I try to put her down in the bed several times. I am losing my touch perhaps, each time she wakes and wails, wails and wakes. Forty minutes later , I hug her tightly to my chest and take her to our bed. Instantly she is asleep on my chest, like a small dwarf trying to protect his hill of gold coins. Her legs and arms stretching either side of my torso. The sandman finally visits emptying his precious cargo into my eyes, as he leaves the clock informs him it's after 5am and he must be thinking of returning home before the eastern sky starts to fade into light.
I was late out of bed, not so late, but it meant skipping a proper breakfeast. I put on my cheap brown suit, white shirt, a tie with dark red and black bars, I looked sober smart. I parked close to the courthouse. In Old Nice there is the Palais de Justice, and the Palais Rusca one opposite the other, both buildings couldn't be starker in contrast. Justice has high glass walls and gold lettering for brotherhood, freedom and equality etched into white stone. The red court I described before and it's low structure reminded me of a rebuilt roman bath house.
Inside the security man made me take out my keys. I passed through the metal detector and it beeped. He handed me back my keys and admitted me. I wondered about the level of security. No checks whatsoever.
I waited for my lawyer to arrive, there was no sign of her.
I played people watching as lawyers in jeans and runners, or smart pants and shoes, or redhigh heels and mini skirts or shinny black boots with smart heels, all milled around on business all dressed as normal people under the black robes of justice edged with some white fluffy touch to make them look.....legal I guess.
I wondered about this game. They were ordinary boys and girls who had been through college and now worked for a living at the coal face of other peoples misery.
She walked out and saw me, she inquired about Madam, I hadn't heard a thing. She went off to find her. About 10 minutes later she was back, she tried to hide her satisfaction that Madame wasn't going to be there. She talked about the future, that if it didn't work out, it wasn't final. I could always try again later. I nodded, knowing in my heart that this is it for the time being.
Eventually it was time to wait in the small hall before the courtroom. There were four chairs, full of coats and bags, and lawyers. There was I, and a lady of about 25. The other 8 people in the small space were lawyers. They chatted and laughed and compared notes and cases. I earwigged and took in the different senses of style, senses of value and upbringing too.
My ex's lawyer had already walked past me, turned looked at me, made to move off and stopped, pointed at me and then offered my formal name and smiled and shook my hand. He wouldn't make supporting cast in a B movie that is for sure, never mind get a cesar or golden lion for that performance. I asked him how he was and he was gone without a answer.
Now in the small space I wished him bad vibes, I positioned myself to be in line with him, each time I sent him vibes he repostioned himself to get someone between us. I know I was being mean and nasty, but I had a sense of what was going to happen next and I was not going to let him do it easily.
The same room as the last time, purplish walls, high windows, ordinary workaday tables badly stuck beside each other. A Man with well cut short grey hair, dressed in black, no tie, somewhat overweight, looked up, he seemed startled to see me. A lady about the same age beside him perhaps a little older, different salary bracket for sure. They acknowledged me. The proceedings began.
As my ex was not there, we got to go first, I was from that moment on completely ignored. My lawyer was pleased and nervous. I sent her vibes to stop her hands shaking and take the tremor out of her voice. They stopped.
She opened her file, made a point, explained it, and moved the page to one side. She made another point, explained it and moved the page to one side. Each time she revealed the next page with it's heading, it's argument, and she continued in this vain for about 20 minutes. The judge took notes, only one time referring to his secretary to write some thing down.
She made a good argument in that at 9 years of age living 3 minutes away from his father, having expressed a desire to make up for lost time, having seen his little sister and being more than comfortable with his step mother and having every thing he needs here, there is no reason why on earth this little boy should not be more often in his fathers house. She refered to different reports, and to nearly two years of evidence gathered and presented.
I was happy she built a good solid argument. I wondered why she didn't seem to have so much confidence in herself. When she finished she sat back, but as we were angled side by side, she sat almost back in arms. It was a surprisingly warm moment between us.
The rebuttal was to dismiss the aformentioned reports out of hand, to make references to bills that were never paid by me, which in fact were. To throw dirt and hope some stuck. The reply was unstructured, not very coherent in that the only reason they were against it was because, well they were against because they are convinced boy doesn't want it. The reply was short, delivered under some duress, ( I was still sending forget your arguement vibes ) and was over quickly. The judge spoke,
Monsieur Smarm the lawyer for my ex, was from that point onwards ignored by me, he shook my hand afterwards, I didn't smile, I gave him the limp fish.The court will deliver it's verdict on January 15th thank you all very much
My lawyer tried to talk in an annex in private, he followed us in and delayed for nothing, so she said nothing.
She waited as did I.
Once again she explained if the judge said no this time there would be other times. I explained to her I wasn't living in hope, I was just living. She misunderstood. I explained further. I told her I had done everything I could. I had spent money, gathered evidence, come to court and witnessed her present a case. Now some guy will decide our future. If it's in favour of our argument, then great. If not, I still have to be a father, I still have my love driving me to teach and make him the best he can be, within reason and good measure. I will not be upset if the answer is no. Things will be clear, concise and legal. They will be binding. I will have at least a leg to stand on. She wished me a happy festive period and walked back into the annex to get something, I wished her one too, and she replied but I didn't hear it.
She came back and looked at me, I told her I hadn't heard, she explained she had been through the same process all too recently. I was full of admiration. She had been thoroughly professional. She had done her job, and perhaps her nerves were explained by her personal story.
I touched her lightly on the shoulder as her eyes filled up. She turned away, hating that her mask had fallen.
I asked was she okay, she shrugged it off as if it was nothing. She complimented me on my sincerity and honesty. Of course I was pleased.
I spent the day in town with lover celebrating. We bought me a new set of clothes, and shoes, we joked that I would marry myself I looked so good, and then let Georgio, the assistant in the well to do store, into the secret that today was my divorce.
It will be all legal and offical on the 15th January. There are two important things. For my sanity I will be now free of an awkward unhappy, unpleasing relationship. It will sweep the deck clean and I can get on with my life and perhaps try to build something new with the mother of my son, for the sake of my son. I have longed for this for long.
For my son, his concentration is not top, his discipline is out the window, but he knows where ever he is there is acres of love and that beneath that , there are acres more. If nothing else this alone is a gift in life. I will not say that I put my faith in the law. My faith is too important. I will abide by whatever decision is delivered. I will get on with our lives. I will continue to be as good a father as I can be. What else could you ask of any man?