Good Morning Ted and Jody:
Yesterday Portland’s television stations—all of them—were inundated with breaking news about the weather. First, they were telling people that it would start to snow soon as a front moved up from the south. Then they broke in to tell people that the snow had started and would accumulate up to 2.3 inches (how they can be that accurate reminds me of when I got my first digital watch back in the ‘60s, very accurate, if, and only if you happened to guess right when you set it). Next, they reported that it was still snowing and there were numerous closures. Finally, the interruptions ceased and they took over the broadcast bands constantly with no pretense of interrupting service. I was surprised that they did not preempt the national news (they did that this morning when they preempted the morning shows on all three networks).
We did get between 2 to 3 inches of accumulation. Not very dense, but still it built up to that on railing and the like. On level ground, it was more like an inch (on the ground it was warmer and so it compacted by melting down a bit). But the problem is the media spread so much hysteria about this small amount of snow, I suspect they are the cause of most of the accidents that clogged the roads down in Portland early from the people fleeing to get home before the “storm” hit. Yes, I said, story, but you notice I put it in quotation marks as I am quoting all three local stations. One of the local anchors is one of our graduates, Ted. He graduated from CMU, after a fashion (I suspect ICPD), and his bio does say he was on campus for a couple of years. You would think he would have a difficult time keeping a straight face anchoring a 2 to 3 inches of snow emergency after living in Michigan. But then I guess media folks have to be flexible.
Now, I will grant you the local units of government do not have to cope with snow more than a couple of times a year. Hence, they do not have the equipment that more snow impacted cities, counties and states have. But they still seem to use the same model that their snowier sister jurisdictions use. Hello, it is an entirely different animal here than there. Someone in this climate needs to rethink how to handle “snow emergencies.” I suspect step one would be to silence the media. (Just kidding)
Nancy is still improving. However, I can’t understand why as I am cooking. You would think after a week of my cooking she would be in stage four malnutrition. She still spends most of her waking and sleeping time in the recliner. And, I still fetch a lot. The smiles have been more frequent, so I have ruled out gas. She is the reason I know about all the media attention to the catastrophic 2 to 3 inches of snow that fell yesterday and overnight, for she complained when the interrupted her television shows to make the monumental announcements ever few minutes (between commercials, after all, there are priorities).
I am attaching the next installment of the Amanda Saga.
I trust you are enjoying real snow.
Warmest regards, Ed
009 Mrs. Hastings Springs into Action 9th in the Amanda Saga
Fiction in 1,560 words by T. Edward Westen, 2016
Brice Clarkton was just finishing with the lunch dishes when the cell phone on the sideboard started to ring. He looked at it. Then he looked at Mrs. Hastings. “Aren’t you going to answer it?”
Mrs. Hastings, an aged model of both his wife, Amanda and of Mrs. White—same height, same weight, same build and identical facial features. Were they the same age, Brice suspected he would not be able to tell them apart. Mrs. Hastings could have passed for fifty to fifty-two years old. She was, in fact, and by her announcement, 64-years-old.
Mrs. Hastings ran her finger across the cell phone screen and it stopped its ringtone. “That is our signal to move.” She pulled a cell phone out of her apron and handed it to Brice. You must take Amanda and Mandy to this address and wait for my call. I or Mrs. White will than join you there. So not use this phone for anything except to receive my call. We need to keep Amanda and Mandy under wraps least Edith Gunderson get to them before we can make them safe.”
Brice asked,” How are we going to keep them safe. We don’t have a birth certificate for Mandy. We can’t prove . . . “
Mrs. Hasting cut him off, “Proof is not really the issue once we get into a reasonable court that Edith Gunderson hasn’t corrupted. Don’t worry, Mrs. White has been planning this for close to 10 years.”
Brice, buttoning Mandy’s jacket, “but . . .”
Mrs. Hastings cut him off again. “No, buts young man. Keep your family safe. Now go, I have to get to court to represent Mrs. White.”
As soon as the Clarkton family was out the door, Mrs. Hastings picked up the phone and speed dialed a number. After a few seconds, a voice on the other end said “Yes.”
Mrs. Hasting said, “They are on their way.”
The voice on the phone replied, “I guess that means Mrs. White is in jail again.”
“I’m afraid so, but this time she is prepared, replied Mrs. Hasting. “I have to get the papers to arraignment court. I have no idea how long they have had her. So, I must fly.”
“Drive Carefully,” the voice on the phone said.
A bit later
Mrs. Hastings pulled into the parking lot at the Hall of Justice. She parked in the first available parking space. Using the paper and pencil map that Mrs. White had drawn for her, she found her way to the Arraignment Court on the second floor. She was amused that she triggered the metal detector when she went through the security check point ‘That will teach me to wear cheap steel jewelry to public events’ she though. She found a seat near the back and prepared for a long wait. She had brought a book. As it was, it was an old Perry Mason paperback, The Case of the Stuttering Bishop, she had picked up in the used book store over in Five Points. Having watched the television series in the late 1950s and early 1960s she always imagined Raymond Burr, Barbra Hale, William Hopper and that poor man who played the District Attorney and did the anti-smoking commercials while he was dying, when the characters spoke, acted or the like in the book. ‘Now what was his name?’
‘Things were easier back in the last Century. People accept one for who one appeared to be. The were fewer problems in getting things like driver’s licenses, Social Security Cards and the like. My goodness, even library cards were hard to come by any more.’ Mrs. Hastings smiled at this thought, ‘Had I a library card I never would have found this book’ she thought tapping the open paperback in front of her; ‘Nor would I have met that nice Mr. Ackerman.’ The though of Dave Ackerman made her smile even more. ‘Who would have thought at my age, I would . . . .”
The court’s proceedings filtered through her musings. “Docket Number 364-022 The People v. Amanda Clarkton. The charge child neglect. How does the defendant plead.”
“Your Honor, if it please the Court,” Broke in ADA, Cameron Diggs. “The People would like to amend the Charge.”
The Judge, Arthur Philips raised an eyebrow, “Mr. Cameron, are you going to add more crimes to the charge list?”
All 5 feet 11 ½ inches, 185 pounds of Cameron Diggs, seem to wince before he spoke “No, your Honor, we need to change the defendant’s name and age on the charge slip and the docket. Instead of Amanda . . .”
Judge Philips interrupted and held up his right index finger in the universal sign to stop and pay attention, “Before you tell me what the changes are let me read the paperwork on this woman.” He studied each paper in the attached file for a few moments, switching back and forth between two in particular. After what must have seemed to ADA Diggs, he turned to Mrs. White and said “Well, if you are 24 you could have fooled me. So, how is it you let these people think you are 24-year-old Amanda Clarkton?”
Mrs. White stood up straight and replied with a perfectly honest and open face. “I was never addressed by name until the nurse in booking called me Mrs. Clarkton. I corrected her immediately.”
“So, how is it you were arrested?” Judge Philipa asked.
Amanda White did not hesitate, “Well, I was having coffee in the kitchen of Mr. and Mrs. Clarkton’s home when the doorbell rang. I went to the door to find Ms. Gunderson of Child Protective Services and two policemen. Ms. Gunderson told me the police were there for me and Mandy. Ms. Gunderson immediately asked the officer to arrest me.”
Judge Philips turned back to ADA Diggs, “Now, Mr. Diggs, about those changes.”
A sweat had broken out on ADA Cameron Diggs’ brow. He wiped it with his jacket pocket hand kerchief and said, ‘Your Honor, we only wish to substitute Mrs. White and her age for Mrs., Clarkton and her age. This would, ah er, avoid problems later at trial.”
“So you are charging Amanda White, aged other than 24, with child neglect?” Asked the Judge.
ADA Cameron Diggs, nodded and mumbled “Yes, sir.”
“And, Ms. Gunderson is still the complainant? Asked the judge.
ADA Cameron Diggs nodded again.
The judge admonished the ADA “Speak your response audibly Mr. Diggs. The court recorder can’t hear your nod.”
“Yes, Your honor.”
“Yes, she is the complainant; or, yes you will speak your response? Asked the judge who looked just a bit peeved and amused at the same time.
ADA Cameron Diggs was now in a full sweat. But, in a loud clear voice “Yes to both your honor.”
Judge Philipson scratched his chin. “Ms. White, do you have an attorney.”
“Your honor. I will be representing myself.” Replied Mrs. White.
Judge Philipson shook his head in disbelief “When Andy asked me to sit in for him this afternoon, I wonder if he know what circus was about to befall the court. Well, and the court stands corrected Mrs. While what would you have, me do with your client Ms. White.”
Mrs. White nodded to the judge, “With all due respect Your Honor, The People V. Stanford, establish that arrest warrants executed against the wrong individual are prima facie invalid and those arrested should be immediately released.”
Judge Philipson whole face raised in open eyes. “Can you give me the citation Ms. White”?
“Yes, Your Honor if you would allow my associate, Mrs. Hastings, to bring me my files.” Replied Mrs. White.
Jeremy Eastman, seated next to Mrs. Hasting for some 90 minutes while the woman read a Perry Mason paperback, a junior in the City University School of Journalism who had been in attendance at arraignment court for some four hours began to write feverishly on his tablet after he looked closely at the woman who had been seated next to him and the defendant.
Mrs. Hayes made her way to the rail and handed the folder to the officer standing next to Mrs. White. The officer handed it to the handcuffed Mrs. While, who withdrew a single page from the file and handed it back to the officer. The bailiff took the paper from the officer and handed it to Judge Philipson. After several moments, Judge Philipson entered something on his tablet and then smiled. “Mr. Diggs, it would seem opposing counsel is correct. Do the People have an argument why I should not dismiss the warrant and let Mrs. White go home to finish her cup of coffee?”
ADA Cameron Diggs, “If it please the court, the defendant may have knowledge of the whereabouts of the endangered child, Mandy Clarkton.”
“I realize, Mr. Diggs, that you attended law school more recently than I; however, I doubt that even in the digital age ‘may have knowledge of’ is a crime requiring arrest. Bailiff, release the defendant, charges dismissed with prejudice.”
In addition to writing feverishly on his tablet, Jeremy Eastman managed to snap a photo with that selfsame tablet of Mrs. While and Mrs. Hasting as the two turned to leave the court through the jail door.