Can I put my short fiction up here?
For those sitting in the court today, as such boring people do, the sight of little, humpbacked Alice Sudenwaltz appeared rather out of place compared to the usual thuggery that moved in and out of that dock on a daily basis; and yet here she was.
Thick, coke bottle spectacles magnified her eyes to nearly twice their normal size, her skin nearly matching the color of her hair, a mottled white-grey. Beside her lay her walking stick relaxed against the side of the seat.
The seats around the court murmured about the little old lady sitting in the Supreme Missouri Court. Some laughed quietly at the juxtaposition - whaddayathinkshesdoonere, others sat enthralled at the sight; quite rare so high up in the Court system in Missouri.
The room buzzed with interest.
As the judge, a very large imposing man - as judges tend to be - walked in, the loud hubbub of people standing to welcome the Judge into the room, and when he sat, a similar hubbub rattled and clattered as the masses got themselves comfortable and organised. As the crowd died down, someone dropped their keys.
If for a moment, the room could become more silent than it already had been; that would have been the moment.
Ms Sudenwaltz of course, didn't hear any of this. As soon as Judge had sat, she'd plugged the earbuds for the new system-in-case-of-hearing-impaired (as the courtroom assistant had mumbled some half-hour ago as she was assisted into the dock) into her ears and settled into the seat; peering at Judge. The buds were too tight, and they were already quickly becoming uncomfortable for her ears, but she kept her straight, old-woman face, hands gently clasped in her lap.
Judge spoke, his lips just moving without sound for a moment, until it came through the hearing-assisted system, blaring a little too loudly into the old lady's ears.
"Miss Anna Sudenwaltz?" Judge's voice was quite gruff and had a slight twang to it. the 'altz' in her lastname had a rounded sound to it, as if he were moving up and over the pronunciation, rather than straight through. He was more than likely from further down south.
"Ja, that's me, dear."
Anna's voice was as far from Southern America, or even of Wyoming, her hometown, as you could get. A thick soup of German accent coated her pronunciation. 'That' transformed into
a heavy 'zat'. In actuality, noted Anna; Judge had pronounced her name wrong. It wasn't 'Sudenwaltz', but 'Tzudenwaltz'; but she didn't bother mention it.
"You're here in the Missouri Supreme Court of Law, under--"
Judge continued on with his opening speech about how the courtroom was protected under God, waiting seemingly an eternity for the assistant to frantically type out the minutes on her little desk beside Judge. Again Anna didn't listen to any of this, but focused on the sinewy, slack arms in front of her. Back in the day they were full and thick; muscular even. But as elderliness had set in like the welcome parasite it was, the strength had drained away, like the shower back in what used to be her retirement village shower.
The police had seized that a couple of weeks back.
"Do you know why you're here, Miss Sudenwalts?"
Anna scoffed inwardly as the words dripped into her ears. Of course I do, Judge. I'm not senile yet.
"I'll request you to stand."
Anna shuffled to her feet, one hand on the seat behind her for stability. She placed one hand across her sunken chest, as Judge did, and repeated whatever form of a curse or pledge to truth and God she was made to, returning to her seat as quickly as she could.
"Mrs Anna Sudenwaltz, you stand accused for the murder of your husband, Clemens Holtz in 1972,"
Just the name 'Holtz' made her shudder, filling her stomach with equal parts fear and anger as quickly as it had done forty years ago.
"How do you plead?"
A hush fell everytime Anna stopped talking, due to the infernal hearing-aid system, but unbeknownst to her, a hush had fallen over the whole courtroom as well.
It was summer, 1971.
A hot, dry summer - the kind that makes your mouth dry out as soon as you step outside to even attempt to take a breath of fresh air, because even the house was an unwelcome, stuffy and humid beast to be inside. The kitchen of their suburban home felt more like the belly of a dragon than an area to prepare food.
Anna sat outside on the whitewash deck, holding a lemonade with ice in one hand, while reading a magazine. It wasn't a particularly good magazine, but she finally had time to kill, and this was the first one she'd seen that had actually piqued her interest (out of many others) at the store.
Clemens was weeding in the small front garden they owned, a strip of bright red sunburn had begun to inch its way across the nape of his neck.
"Clemens?" She called out across the deck. "Come inside and have something to drink, you look parched and you're getting burnt."
A large Chevrolet rolled around the corner, slowly drifting along the street, yet loudly enough to drown out Anna's concern. Anna had wanted to practice her English more. SHe knew full well that it was lacking, but sometimes she had to; instinctively dropped back into her mother tongue.
She really hated American cars. They were loud, very large, and generally owned by patriots who, if they lived in the neighbourhood would roll by and yell to one another, presumably over the noise of the outrageously large engine.
Frustrated, Anna got up, calling out again.
" Clemens, du bekommen einen Sonnenbrand! Kommen Du herein ab und zu einen Drink!"
This, Clemens heard; turning to his wife and giving her a quick O shape with his thumb and forefinger. 'Ja', it meant. She'd known him long enough to accompany the quick affirmative gesture with her own mental recording of Clemens' quick affirmation.
They'd moved from Germany 13 years ago, and yet to Anna, her English was only ever okay. At her part-time work, her co-workers disagreed, reassuring her that her English was as good as any. She only ever felt they were trying to make her feel better. it didn't help very much.
Clemens was definitely on the other end of the scale. He hadn't transitioned as well to the American lifestyle, and had changed languages even less successfully.
His English was passable at best, even poor. He worked as a butcher in the Wyoming German community. It probably didn't expand his English skills, but try as she might; she wasn't able to convince her husband to widen his world view. It was the butcher, Anna, and the baby.
Anna wasn't entirely sure for how long she'd been pregnant, or even when it'd happened. Her and Clemens had so rarely nowadays, that it seemed nearly impossible to even get him in the mood. She loved the feeling of his woolly chest hair at night, and yet she couldn't get him ready in the way she used to.
The early days had been so wonderful. He'd been so full of bravado and testerone. He really was like her own small scale superman.
Leaving Germany with him, Anna was like the damsel with the big, Superman of a husband, now a limp husk of the Superman he'd used to be. A not-so-Superman.