By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
But they didn’t lock her away, not yet. She was handcuffed to a bench that gave onto a hallway behind the front desk, and she didn’t catch the explanation offered her — the cop, the booking officer, a man in his thirties who looked almost apologetic as he took her by the arm, had averted his face as he gently but firmly pushed her down and readjusted the cuffs — but it became clear when a bleached-out wisp of a man with a labile face and the faintest pale trace of a mustache came through the door and made his way to her, his hands already in motion. His name — he finger-spelled it for her — was Charles Iverson and he was an interpreter for the deaf. I work at the San Roque School sometimes, he signed. I’ve seen you around.
She didn’t recognize him — or maybe she did. There was something familiar in the smallness and neatness of him, and she seemed to recollect the image of him in the hallway, his head down, moving with swift, sure strides. She forced a smile. “I’m glad you’re here,” she said aloud, lifting her cuffed hands in an attempt to sign simultaneously as she tended to do when she was agitated. “There’s some huge mistake. All I did was run a four-way stop . . . and they, they” — she felt the injustice and the hurt of it building in her and struggled to control her face. And her voice. It must have jumped and planed off because people were staring — the booking officer, a secretary with an embellished figure and a hard plain face, two young Latinos stalled at the front desk in their canted baseball caps and voluminous shorts. Put a lid on it, that’s what their body language told her.
Iverson took his time. His signing was rigid and inelegant but comprehensible for all that, and she focused her whole being on him as he explained the charges against her. There are multiple outstanding warrants, he began, in Marin County, Tulare and L.A. Counties— and out of state too, in Nevada. Reno and Stateline.
Warrants? What warrants?
He was wearing a sport coat over a T-shirt with the name of a basketball team emblazoned across the breast. His hair had been sprayed or gelled, but not very successfully — it curled up like the fluff of the chicks they’d kept under a heat lamp in elementary school, so blond it was nearly translucent. She watched him lift the lapel of his jacket and extract a folded sheet of paper from the inside pocket. He seemed to consider it a moment, weighing it like a knife, before dropping it to his lap and signing, Failure to appear on a number of charges, different courts, different dates, over the past two years. Passing bad checks, auto theft, possession of a controlled substance, assault with a deadly weapon— the list goes on.He held her eyes. His mouth was drawn tight, no sympathy there. It came to her that he believed the charges, believed that she’d led a double life, that she’d violated every decent standard and let the deaf community down, one more hearing prejudice confirmed. Yes, his eyes said, the deaf live by their own rules, inferior rules, compromised rules, they live off of us and on us. It was a look she’d seen all her life.
He handed her the sheet and there it all was, dates, places, the police department codes and the charges brought. Incredibly, her name was there too, undeniably and indelibly, in caps, under Felony Complaint, Superior Court of this county or the other, and the warrant numbers marching down the margin of the page.
She looked up and it was as if he’d slapped her across the face. I’ve never even been to Tulare County— I don’t even know where it is. Or to Nevada either. It’s crazy. It’s wrong, a mistake, that’s all. Tell them it’s a mistake.
The coldest look, the smallest Sign. You get one phone call.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city