This story is by William J. DeProspo and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
Roxie Pile was sitting in her son’s courtroom. She was proud of her son being a Judge. Little Jackie Pile, who would have thought? When she read the case description, The State vs Jack Pile, she knew nothing would keep her away. A man slid into the bench and sat next to her. She knew. It was Jeffrey Pile, the defendant’s father, and her brother. Jeffrey turned to look at her,
“Roxie, I knew you would be here, as I’m sure you knew I’d be here.”
It was more than twenty years since that last meeting at her bar,
“Yes, Jeffrey, I knew. This is too important to all of us.”
“On the way over, I was thinking about the happier times. And we did have a few.”
“Yes, we did”, Roxie had a tear in her eye. Not from being sad, but from remembering how happy her son was that first morning.
Little Jackie Pile, was so excited he almost wet his pants. Eight o’clock in the morning, he was up, showered, and dressed in his new soccer uniform. He was ready to go. His mother, Roxie Pile, laughed when she told him,
“Jackie my boy, what are you going to do for seven hours until the game. By the time you get to the stadium, your uniform will look like you’ve already played a game.”
Jackie didn’t care. When the time came to go to the stadium, he would be ready.
So anxious was he, that every fifteen minutes he would ask his mom, “is it time to go.” He was ten years old and this was the first year he was chosen for the junior soccer team. The time to leave finally came. His mom put her hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her,
“Now, mom, now?”
Mom couldn’t help herself from smiling, “yes Jackie, my impatient son, now.”
The gallery became silent as the Judge entered the courtroom. When Jeffrey saw Judge Pile, his eyes filled with tears. He too was remembering that first morning. His son was also happy. It had been a long time since he saw a smile on his son’s face.
Big Jackie Pile, as he was called, heard a knock on his bedroom door. He saw Mr. Jamison, his dad’s valet. With a whine, only his 10 years could voice, “Ah, Mr. Jamison, just a bit more. What’s another minute or two?”
“I’m sorry Master Jack, but you know your father wants the whole family to have breakfast together.”
After breakfast, Jackie walked out to the car garages where the chauffeur was washing the Rolls Royce. As he approached, the chauffeur inquired,
“Has your father said anything about the game?”
“He only said it was a big game for the Academy.”
The chauffeur thought a minute, then offered, “I can ask your father if he’s going to the game?”
With a small smile, “Please, that would be nice.”
After speaking with someone in the main house, the chauffeur turned to Jackie,
“Well, your father agreed to go to the game… and he will drive the Rolls himself.”
Jeffrey cleared his eyes of tears and looked at Roxie. She returned his look, and they smiled at each other. The memories were coming back, the soccer game, the discovery, it was there, in that court room, that first morning. They remembered the Championship Game.
The stadium parking lot was packed. Little Jackie’s mother, Roxie, drove her old station wagon around until she saw an empty parking space next to a black Rolls Royce. She felt a little hoity-toity being parked next to a Rolls Royce.
Mother and son walked to the stadium clubhouse where she left Jackie in the good hands of his soccer coach. She walked to the stands and sat next to a well-dressed man wearing a very expensive looking suit. She looked down at herself, cut-off jeans, sandals, and a flowered tank top. Roxie’s smile was so automatic, that sitting next to Mr. GQ produced one almost too much for her face to handle.
As the game progressed, Roxie would jump up and down while screaming, “Jackie, go, son, go my Little Jackie.” The man sitting next to her never uttered a word nor did he move his head an inch in any direction. Half time came. Roxie stood and stretched the first half out of her bones. The man next to her did not move. Roxie had enough, she turned to the man and said,
“Sir, do you have a child playing in this game?”
The man looked up at the woman hovering over him, and simply said, “yes.”
Roxie said with a rather annoyed intonation to her voice,
“Sir, I know it is none of my business, But, this is the championship game, you have a son playing in it, couldn’t you be a little bit more excited about it?”
The man stood and faced Roxie. With a slight New England accent,
“Madam, I am very excited. Just because I sit here and don’t jump up and down like some Mexican, ah, bean, does not mean I am not excited. I love my son and I am rooting for him and the Academy.”
Roxie offered to shake the man’s hand. He took her hand in his, and courteously said, “Pleased to meet you. I’m Jeffrey Pile”
Roxie was surprised, “Pleased to meet you, I’m Roxie Pile.”
They looked curiously at each other. Jeffrey offered, “my son is Jack Pile, he plays for the Academy.” Roxie tried to stay calm when she said, “That’s interesting, my son is also called Jack Pile, He plays for Wilford Elementary School.”
The half time was over, but Roxie and Jeffrey kept standing and staring at each other. The game started and they sat back down to watch it. When the game ended, Roxie and Jeffrey said their goodbyes. As fate would have it, they met again in the parking lot. Jeffery asked Roxie,
“Is Pile your husband’s name?”
Roxie, a little embarrassed averted Jeffrey’s eyes,
“No, I’m a single mother, Pile is my father’s name.”
Trying to recover, she quickly added,
“How did you come to name your son, Jack?”
“Jack was grandfather’s name, on my mother’s side, and why did name your son Jack?”
Roxie raised her eyebrows when she answered, “Jack was also grandfather’s name, on my mother’s side.” Intrigued, she continued, “What was your mother’s name?”
“My mother’s name was Clara Pile.”
Roxie staggered, she almost fell to the floor. Jeffrey grabbed her, she said with almost undecipherable words,
“My mother’s name was Clara Pile.”
Jeffrey heard a voice, “Dad, is what I heard true?” He was not sure how to answer his son. He was not sure himself. Roxie heard Jackie’s question and said to the children,
“I think we’ve had a very big day today. Maybe we should just go home.”
Jeffrey realized this was best for everyone, “I think Miss Pile is right, we should go home.”
As the Rolls was leaving, Jackie rolled down his window and yelled,
“Jackie, my cousin, I hope we meet again. Maybe next year at the Soccer game.”
Although Jeffrey and Roxie traveled in different social circles, they would meet from time to time. Jeffrey would even take his son to Roxie’s bar. It was a good time. He and Roxie would explore their family history, while the children had fun confusing the not to sober clients by calling each other Jackie Pile. Eventually, as with all children, they grew up and went their separate ways. Jeffrey and Roxie over the years slowly lost track of each other.
There was a loud bang in the courtroom as Judge Pile slammed his gavel into its cradle. The loud noise shook Jeffrey and Roxie out of their memories. The Bailiff, in a loud voice,
“All Rise, Department One of the Superior Court is now in session. Judge Jack Pile presiding… Please be seated.”
Judge Pile looked around his courtroom. He stopped when he came to the defendant, Jack Pile. He stared at him for a moment, then said,
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.”
Before he could continue, in a loud, bellowing voice,
“Your honor, I’m innocent, I’m being waylaid, The D.A. has it in for me. She and her grubby tribe of high and mighty yuppie bastards think they run the city…”
“Mr. Pile, that’s enough. Councilor, keep your client quiet or you and he will be spending Christmas in jail.”
“Yes, your honor.”
Big Jackie Pile, was in court for the fourth time. He couldn’t stop his hands from writing fraudulent checks. If convicted, he would spend the rest of his life behind bars. Judge Pile continued,
“Since I am the defendant’s cousin, I will now recuse myself from this case.”
Little Judge Jackie Pile looked down at his desk, ‘why me, why that stupid soccer game’. He stood to leave. He stopped at his chamber door, turned and took one more look at the defendant, his cousin, Jack Pile. They locked eyes, there was a hint of sadness on his face as looked away and walked out of the courtroom.