Quote of the Day – August 7, 2017: Go and put a guard – Harper Lee
He slowed the step when he got to the center. It was deserted; only two cars stopped in the face of drugstore. The old court shone white in the dazzling midday sun. A black dog ran somewhere down the street, the Chilean pinetrees stood quiet and spiked in the corners of the square.
When he reached the entrance on the north side, he saw empty cars parked on two rows along the building.
When he climbed the steps of the courthouse, he did not notice the old man who was coughing around, did not notice the water dispenser immediately behind the door, did not notice the cane braided chairs in the hallway; but could not not notice the smell of jilav, sweet, like urine from petty and dark shirts. He passed the offices of the tax collector, the tax assessor, the local government official, the notary, the judge at the inheritance court, climbed the unpainted stairs to the courtroom, then another covered staircase to the balcony reserved for black people, she went out on the balcony and took her old place on the edge of the first row, where she stayed with her brother when they came to court to see her father.
At the level below, on rudimentary benches, not only the majority of rubbish in the entire District of Maycomb, but also the province's most respectable men, sat.
She looked to the far end of the hall where, beyond the railing separating the courtyard from the spectators, at a long table, her father, Henry Clinton, sat, a few men she knew too well and one she did not know.
At the end of the table, like a giant hydropic limax, stood William Willoughby, the political symbol of everything her father and others like him despised more. And he's an endangered species, he told himself. Atticus wouldn't give him any good afternoon, and yet here he is at the same…
William Willoughby was really the last of his species, at least for a while. He was bleeding from death in full abundance, because the blood that kept him alive was poverty. Each district in the Deep South had a Willoughby, all so similar to each other, that they constituted a special category, called Him, the Great Mahăr, the Little One, depending on the insignificant local differences. He, or whatever his subjects called him, occupied the main administrative position in his district – he was either a sheriff or a judge in the inheritance court – but there were mutations, as in willoughby's case in Maycomb, who had chosen not to honor any office Public. Willoughby was a rarity – his preference to remain in the shadows meant the absence of a huge personal ego, an essential feature for a two-bit despot.
Willoughby had chosen to run the district not from the most comfortable office, but from something that looked more like a coop – a dark, stinky shirt with its name on the door and containing nothing but a phone, kitchen table and wooden chairs unpainted, with rich skate. Wherever he went, he was wrong to pursue a coterie of passive characters, mostly villains known as the Gang of the Tribunal, specimens that Willoughby had placed in different positions in the city or district, where they did what they were told.
Sitting at the table next to Willoughby was one of them, Tom-Carl Joyner, his right-hand and rightfully proud hand: hadn't he been in cahoots with Willoughby in the first place? Didn't he do all the bottom work for Willoughby? In the long gone days of the Recession, he hadn't farted in the middle of the night at the doors of the tenant barracks, he hadn't put well in the heads of every ignorant and hungry poor man who received social assistance that his vote belonged to Willoughby? We don't vote, we don't guard. Like his little satellites, Tom-Carl had taken an air of respectability that didn't fit him and didn't like to be reminded of his infamous beginnings. Tom-Carl was standing there that Sunday, sure to think that the little empire he'd built at the cost of so many lost nights would be his when Willoughby would lose interest or die. Nothing was read on his face indicating that he might expect a nasty surprise: already independence born of prosperity had undermined his kingdom until dust was chosen; two more rounds of elections and would remain out of it only a subject of disseraticfor sociology students. Jean Louise looked at her face sufficient and almost laughed at the thought that the South was indeed ruthless when she repaid her civil servants with her disappearance.
He looked at the ranks of known heads below – white hair, brown hair, carefully combed hair to hide hairlessness – and recalled how, in the old days, when nothing exciting was happening in the room, he aimed noiselessly spit at the glossy balls below. Judge Taylor caught her once and threatened to send her into custody.
The book Go and put a guard can be purchased from: